he Extra Miler - Column #33 - Jeremy Wong - Bringing Special Joy
By: Carol A. Dawson











“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”  Timothy 4:12

Walking into church a couple of weeks ago, ten year old Mitch Traylor greeted me with an out stretched hand of welcome and stated, “Please step right in and within moments you will be blessed by the love of God.”   Young people and children can bring so much joy into our daily lives.  Those who go the extra mile and see life from an optimist’s viewpoint are a constant wonder and inspiration.  Like Mitch and our Extra Miler this month, Jeremy Wong, these young minds have matured far beyond their years.

Jeremy Wong certainly fits the description of an Extra Miler and we recognize his many achievements.  I visited Jeremy at the school he has attended since 4th grade, Christian Academy in New Albany.  When I met Jeremy, he was attending a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meeting and recruiting students to attend an outreach project to a children’s home.  Jeremy discussed plans for the project, “The purpose of this trip is to interact and play with the children while also ministering to them in an effort to bring hope and peace to their lives.”

An honor roll student with a 4.0 GPA, Jeremy is quick to describe his feelings about his school, “I love it here – this is a great school!”  He is involved in the National Honor Society, FCA, Pathfinders, and many other volunteer, community, and church activities, including speaking and playing the saxophone in his church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in New Albany.  Jeremy is just as comfortable behind the scenes as he is in a leadership role; however, the focus is on doing everything in life for the right reason.

Jeremy serves as a youth pastor and a group leader for the school’s FCA.  The FCA huddle leader and Christian Academy Financial Director, Liz Geisen, indicated Jeremy is the epitome of an Extra Miler, “Jeremy is an outstanding young man.  He looks to always do the right thing and he doesn’t do these things for the accolades or for attention to himself.”  She adds, “Jeremy is clearly motivated by his passion for the Lord and sharing the good Word through his actions and deeds.”

If you ask Jeremy why he is so busy with projects to make our world a better place, he doesn’t hesitate to respond, “I love to help people…I truly enjoy it.”  His philosophy in life resonates with his purpose for going the Extra Mile, “Everything I do should be for the glory of God – when I do something good, people should see Jesus shining through me, instead of just seeing Jeremy.”

The projects that are “hands-on,” are Jeremy’s favorite, such as working with abused children and helping at the soup kitchen.  When he volunteers his time, he always involves his Christian life and values.  Jeremy remembers his first time to volunteer, “It was my first activity with the Pathfinders (a ministry organization with his church).”  He remembers, “We were gathering food for the less fortunate; one week we left bags at homes asking for food donations.  The next week we collected the bags and distributed the food in our community.  The grateful look on the faces of the people who received the food was…well, indescribable.  They were so appreciative.”    

Jeremy’s minister, Pastor Jerry Higgs was happy to talk about this exceptional young man, “Jeremy is honest, dedicated and focused on his goals in life.”  Pastor Higgs adds, “He wants to be a pastor and has already demonstrated his ability to be successful.  Jeremy’s love for the Lord motivates him in everything he does for our community.”

Jeremy Wong is certainly the kind of young man who has already made a positive difference in our world and there is no doubt he will continue the same path.  Thank you, Jeremy, for going the Extra Mile for the Southern Indiana community.

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Jeremy’s tip:  Get yourself motivated to help others – there are many things to be done in the community and it doesn’t have to take a lot of your time.  The results of your good deeds can be unbelievable.  Even if you don’t see it immediately, the impact is there and it is priceless.

The Extra Miler column will be focusing on several youth through the holiday months in an effort to show Southern Indiana how our children and teens are making positive change in the world.  May you be motivated enough by their genuine acts of love and kindness to “pass it on.”

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The Extra Miler -Article #23 ( Stacy Sillings, Melissa Badger and Chrissie Lewis)
By Carol A. Dawson

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Their duties lasted far into each night.  It seemed the work would never end.  Others would have winced, thrown up their hands, and quit once there was an acceptable solution to their mission.  However, Stacy Sillings, Melissa Badger and Chrissie Lewis were not satisfied with merely acceptable solutions.  They persevered and stayed with their mission until there was nothing more to be done.  They drew their determination from their devotion to their school and their love of children.  

These Extra Milers were the primary organizers and contacts to provide housing for over 1,000 high school students attending the Indiana Assn. of Student Council State Conference.  They responded, one by one, to hundreds of calls, faxes, and email responses to find and arrange two nights of safe housing and transportation for the student council members.  Even before the housing was completed, the trio began working with hundreds of requests for replacements and cancellations.  As the phones kept ringing late into the night, these women never lost sight of the importance of their goal.  The work was for the students and the results of their efforts would either reflect positively or poorly on our Southern Indiana community.  These Extra Milers were simply not going to let down the students, their school, or their community.  They were determined to find the best possible lodging for the Student Council students who converged into Southern Indiana with pillows, sleeping bags, suitcases, and high spirits.   

Typical of an Extra Miler, Melissa Badger felt undeserving and would have preferred that Chrissie Lewis, a former Clarksville Student Council President, and Stacy Sillings, a Special Ed. teacher and Asst. Student Council Advisor, receive the recognition.  I have come to expect this of our Extra Milers.  

Melissa, Clarksville High School’s Student Council Advisor, wanted it told that many people came together in the community to ensure the students were made to feel comfortable and welcome.  She specifically named Frani Perry and Cindy Collins as being pivotal to the success of the conference.  Melissa added that they also had help with housing from the Clarksville HS faculty, staff, and students, along with New Albany High School, First Christian Church, American Red Cross, Tri-Kappa, Inc., YMCA, Altrusa International, Leadership Southern Indiana…and many more. “This was a true team effort by our community,” Melissa noted, “The larger community pitched in to make this a positive event for all of Southern Indiana.”   

My husband and I were delighted to host five students. Since we have raised a son, our request was to place girls in our home.  The young women assigned to us ranged from 14 to 17 years old and were friendly, professional, and appreciative…great qualities to be a leader.  Anyone would be proud to have them as daughters.  Listening to them chat excitedly about the conference workshops, their future plans for college, and of course guys (apparently a “better looking” group than in the past), revealed that not much has truly changed through the years.  These young women illuminated our home during their brief visit and we were happy to glimpse the future of our country in their capable hands.  

Just how did Clarksville High School end up hosting the convention?  Melissa advised, “Nobody else stepped up to host for 2006.  We were approached by the State and accepted their request…knowing it wouldn’t be easy.”  Our Extra Milers said they were humbled by this experience as all of Indiana watched Clarksville High School and the community pull together and work as a successful team.

One of the young women in our home stated, “We were absolutely shocked when we heard that itty-bitty Clarksville High School would be hosting this state conference.”  She added, “We are still a little surprised that they pulled it off.”  Melissa, Stacy, and Chrissie, and all who worked so hard to ensure success, know that you truly did, “pull it off.”  Thanks to each of you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers!

Kindness Tip of the Month (from our Extra Miler):  I recently spoke with one of my son’s former elementary school teachers, Mrs. Lawson.  She immediately asked about Jeff and we exchanged updates.  She then told me that he had sent her a note when he was in high school, telling her she was one of his favorite teachers and why.  It was school assignment.  She said the note was very special.     Send a letter or card to a former teacher, telling him or her how much she/he inspired you. (If the teacher is no longer at the same school or retired, the administrative office may be able to forward your letter.)
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THE EXTRA MILERS - Column #4
A Street Full of Kindness for Injured Dog - Saundra Duffee
Carol A. Dawson












As a young girl, Saundra Duffee recalls crying for hours when an automobile she was riding in hit and killed a bird. Like so many, she has often thought about what she would do if she ever came across a severely injured animal and even carries a blanket in her car to be prepared. She no longer has this question lingering in her mind.

Saundra and her dog, Annie, live on a busy street in Jeffersonville . Last month the two were walking when they saw a small beagle in the neighborhood. As they turned down a street, Saundra heard the horrible sound of an animal crying out in pain. She knew immediately what had happened and turned in the direction of the accident. The beagle was limping with a severely broken leg and gashes on his body. Saundra approached the dog, “He was terrified and in obvious pain. This wasn’t a matter of choice; I knew I had to catch him and get help.”


Even with his mangled body, the dog pushed himself to keep going at least a mile down the road and was obviously fearful of being caught. Then something miraculous happened. Saundra realized she wasn’t alone, “I don’t even know where all the people came from…but some stopped their cars and some came from their homes to catch and assist this poor, scared little animal.” One man was helping to corner the dog, while a young couple was climbing a fence to stop him from running further. A woman joined in and handed Saundra a towel and said they should throw it over the dog before picking it up to ensure nobody was hurt. “The outpouring of people who cared about this little stray dog was amazing,” Saundra said as she wiped away tears.

After the beagle was caught, treatment was the next hurdle. They were refused treatment by an off-duty veterinarian and decided to take the dog to the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter. Saundra noted they had a convoy of vehicles driving to the animal shelter for assistance. If he survived, she had decided the dog should be called, “Trooper.”

Saundra was impressed with the professional staff at the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter, “They made calls to find a veterinarian who would help with the dog and provided a crate for transportation.” It was late on a Saturday afternoon and the Louisville Blue Cross Animal Hospital was closing when they answered the call for help. They choose to assist by staying open until the injured dog arrived. Trooper didn’t survive – he was too badly injured.

Saundra sat with me for well over an hour talking about the little stray dog, the events of that afternoon, and the acts of kindness she saw all around her. She added, “This group of people stood together after we got to the animal shelter, crying and hugging one another. When I look back and remember all these people rushing to help – all the kindness on my street in Jeffersonville – strangers working together to help this little guy – I am so proud.” “They were strangers who met briefly, shared compassion for an injured beagle, shed a tear and did a good deed.”

Acts of kindness are not always a natural process. Sometimes they take courage and perseverance. No longer will Saundra or the other kind citizens from that day have to ask themselves, “What would I do…?” They already know. They are all “Extra Milers.”

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and President of a national training and consulting company, EEO GUIDANCE, Inc . If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness, let us know about it. To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or send mail to: The Extra Milers, The Evening News, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.
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THE EXTRA MILERS - Column #3 (Summer and Teenagers)
C.A. Dawson

Summer used to be a time when kids rode bikes miles away from their homes and we didn’t stress about it. Picnics with lemonade and watermelon were a common event. Families and neighbors would sit on their front porch steps talking, laughing and learning about one another. Friends played cards for hours, while children played hide and seek and other self-entertaining, non-electronic games. Summers were slower; summers were free time to catch our breath. Most teenagers didn’t work until we turned 15 or 16, with the exception of house chores, lawn mowing and babysitting services. Few worked at all during the school year, even after turning 16.

Since we didn’t have our own cars or expensive entertainment, it just wasn’t necessary. We didn’t have as many ‘things’ or as many clothes or as many vacations, but we didn’t need them. With the exception of football camp, we didn’t have school sports to work us during the summers, and multiple sporting activities to keep us running in various directions. We kept fit by running through the neighborhood free and safe (now considered “wild”). We didn’t look upon roller skating for miles, flipping through the yard, swimming, or playing tag for hours as exercise. Summers were the time to slow down, throw down the school books, release stress and live at a slower pace.

Somewhere along the line summer has lost the fun for many of us, including our children and teens and it is simply an extension of obligations and working on plans to cram in another stress filled mandatory vacation. Our summers have simply become faster paced and less relaxing. I’m not looking for blame because it is a waste of time. Instead, I’m asking folks to think about what this is doing to us and our children? Where can we find kindness if we are overly stressed and moving too fast? Our teenagers want what we have now and most are willing to work for it. Look around when you shop or dine. Pay attention to these children and the positions they fill to ensure we are served. I often hear about how lazy and negative our youth have become and certainly there is a different mindset from my Type A work ethics and my 18 year old sons, which is a generational gap discussion for another time. All of this leads me to the reason for this column on kindness. If you want to find children and teens that are lazy and negative, you will find them all around; however, if you want to find those who are willing to work hard, care for those less fortunate, and go the extra mile, you will just as quickly find them.

It is easier to find something when looking for it. We find what we are looking for in life. To quote Epictetus, a Roman slave and Stoic philosopher, “Seek not good from without; seek it within yourselves, or you will never find it.” Look for kindness…in our store clerks, in the bank teller, in our children, and in yourself. When you find it, even if just for that moment, you will rediscover the magic of summer. You may have to go out your own door and listen to what others are telling you about your own teenager(s) to get the drift of these words.

Last weekend I went out on an expedition to find teenagers who are going that extra mile and I didn’t have to go farther than my neighborhood grocery/retail store. Many of our youth are recognized in the newspaper for excelling in school work, volunteer work, church mission trips, and sports. I applaud them; however, this trip was to find those who would not normally be recognized. Those who are working hard to pleasantly serve us during our fast paced June-August lives. I entered a local store (Meijers) and watched the teenagers as I shopped. They seemed happy and most were laughing as they talked to one another and the customers. A teenage girl in a red polo shirt saw I was perplexed by the choices of printer ink cartridges and voluntarily stepped up to assist. She said she didn’t work in that section but knew a lot about computers. Later while waiting in line to check out, I was ushered by a polite young man to another line with less people waiting. When I thanked him, he grinned and replied, “Just doin’ my job.”

While checking out, I chatted with the young cashier. She seemed the quiet type, so I did most of the talking; however, she smiled and seemed to enjoy the light hearted banter, thanking me (with a smile) before I left. I then walked over to the soft drink fountain where I witnessed an act of kindness, but this individual was a bit beyond his teenage years. A small girl of about 6 years old was sitting on the pony ride pretending it was moving (it was not). An employee, Wayne Gilbert, walked up to the girl, placed a penny in the machine and said to her, “This is what my mother used to do for me when I was your age, so I always keep pennies in my pocket.” The young girl was delighted as the pony started to move back and forth. She quickly returned the kind act by calling out to her younger brother to jump on and share the ride. As their parents walked toward them I heard the little girl happily state, “That nice man gave us the money for this ride.” Hopefully, those parents passed along the kindness before the day was up. Before I left the store, I reported two of the employees for going out of their way to help others. Acts of kindness, large and small, are all around us if we just slow down long enough and look.

If you want to find the angry, troublesome people and children, they are there and just as easy to find. Remember, it is your choice. Whatever your preference, I bid you to slow down your summer – look for kindness - take a few minutes to smile at the people you meet on the street, in the elevators, at the post office, and in your grocery store. Chat with those young people who serve you this summer. Sit on your front porch or steps and watch children laugh and make noise, listen to the birds, eat watermelon (before it goes out of season) and pay attention to the small kindnesses that are all around us.
 
Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and President of a local training and consulting company, EEO Guidance, Inc . To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com

or send mail to:
The Extra Miler, The Evening News, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.

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The Extra Milers  - Column #2 (Leadership Southern Indiana)
C.A. Dawson

With your indulgence (don’t you just love that word), I will dedicate this column to the 2004 Leadership Southern Indiana class.

The Class of 2004 Leadership Southern Indiana (LSI) graduated last week. I was a member of this class. I applied for this opportunity because of two things: 1) I wanted to learn more about my community and how to be more involved as a leader, and 2) some really cool people are affiliated with LSI and I wanted to meet them. From the first day of the retreat, it was evident that I was becoming involved with a remarkable group of people, i.e. really cool people. Geesh, this is too good to be true…being involved the 2004 LSI class would allow me to associate with over 40 “extra milers” - people who want to make Southern Indiana a better point on the map.
 
For nearly a year we spent one day a month together learning about our history, Indiana state government, our education system, diversity, regionalism, and more. Our class celebrated births and sympathized with loss. At least three were promoted. One was able to learn all of our first and last names within the first day of our kickoff retreat, while some still struggle to recall names when our badges are not displayed (that would be me). We have purchased new homes and one moved away (to Las Vegas no less). We are from small and large corporations, non-profits, the school system, and some are on their own. We are Republicans and Democrats. We are young and not as young, but typically are predominately Boomers. Some have survived cancer and many have survived raising teenagers. We have stepped up to help one another in times of need. Retirement wasn’t a word I heard from anyone. We are as diverse as any one group could be, but we have learned to laugh easily around one another… and through it all we have become friends.

The LSI Class of 2004 came together knowing very little about one another. Quickly that changed. I was able to accomplish both of my original goals for joining.

LSI is a community-based leadership program that structures opportunities for residents to learn more about their community, meet its people and leaders, identify ways to improve the community’s services and effectiveness, and hone the skills that equip each of us to make those improvements happen. It is an on-going effort to cultivate and educate future community leaders for our neighborhood. OK, so much for the formal stuff. If interested in being part of the class of 2004-2005, contact Donna Riley at (812) 280-5573 before June 1.

This is a spin-off of bi-monthly column for The Evening News on local random (or not so random) acts of kindness. One person (or 43) can transform a community. Do you have stories of kindness (random or otherwise) in Southern Indiana? Send your stories and we will reveal the sunny side of Southern Indiana.

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The Extra Milers – Column #1 (HER Award Winners)
C.A. Dawson  

You have heard about it. Many have experienced it, but when it happens we are typically taken by surprise. Extreme acts of kindness, loyalty and generosity happen every day in our community; however, all too often we are viewed only through the negative news. Upon hearing I live in Jeffersonville , an acquaintance recently responded, “Oh, isn’t that where they put up a tent in front of city hall for your prisoners?” This was followed by a hearty laugh (his, not mine).

Okay, so I show evidence of having a Pollyanna complex. While I believe it is all of our responsibility to correct inappropriate negative behavior, it is equally and maybe even more important to acknowledge helpful and caring behavior. The animal world calls this “positive reinforcement.” Try calling up a store manager when an employee deserves kudos. Just the combined look of shock and pleasure is worth the time spent waiting.

I see kind people. I see them all around Clark County and Southern Indiana . Kindness can be found in your friends, church members, co-workers, employees, and even the mirrored reflection you see every morning. Stop taking good people for granted. Tell me about the “extra milers” in your life. Let me share their good deeds and conduct with others. Charles Kuralt believed, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” We need to hear news about the good people of Southern Indiana . Tell us your stories of kindness (random or otherwise), extraordinary friendships, and exemplary volunteers.

In this first column I would like to acknowledge the women recently nominated for the Today’s Woman “HER” Awards, along with the exceptional women who won in their respective categories. Many of the nominees were from Southern Indiana , such as Ms. Gerry Hoyland, who was nominated for the Maximum Mom award. Ms. Hoyland passed away recently, but her daughter, Amy Richey, felt it was important to tell of her mother’s giving personality, “Everything my mother had, she gave to her family.” At the ceremony, Amy gently placed her mother’s corsage on her own lapel as tears filled her eyes. The love she felt for her mother’s sacrifices couldn’t be denied as Gerry Hoyland’s name was called during the ceremony. The pages of the HER Awards booklet are filled with over 200 faces of extraordinary women who have gone the extra miles throughout their lives. For each one, somebody cared enough to acknowledge them.

One person can transform a community. Do you know that person? Send your stories and we will reveal the sunny side of Southern Indiana.

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and President of EEO Guidance, Inc.® To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or send mail to: The Evening News, Attn: The Extra Milers, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.
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KICKOFF ARTICLE For New Albany TRIBUNE:
Recognize those who go the extra mile
By CAROL A. DAWSON
newsroom@newsandtribune.com

— Negativity is all around us. It follows us to the supermarket when the clerk is in a bad mood. It follows us into the workplace, the restaurant, the doctor’s office, and we follow it through the media.


Our community is all too often viewed through downbeat dialogue that explores all that is dreadful, shocking and unpleasant. For those folks in our community who are tired of the negative, depressing news that clouds the “sunny side,” this monthly column is for you.


I have often been accused of having a Pollyanna complex. While I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to correct inappropriate negative behavior, it is equally and maybe even more important to acknowledge helpful and caring behavior.


The animal world calls this “positive reinforcement.” Have you ever called for a store manager to come forward in order to hear a compliment regarding a clerk who has gone the extra mile to provide outstanding service? If not, try it sometime. Just the combined look of shock and pleasure is worth the time spent waiting for the manager. By the way, since most managers expect an angry customer waiting … don’t expect anything other than a snail’s pace response to the call.


I see kind people. I see them all around Southern Indiana. This is my second column in The Tribune. However, I have been writing about Clark County Extra Milers for more than a year. I am happy to expand the column to recognize all of Southern Indiana.


Stop taking good people for granted. Let me share their stories and good deeds. Charles Kuralt believed, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.”


I need to hear from you — from New Albany to Georgetown, from Lanesville to Greenville, and on to Floyds Knobs. Tell your stories of kindness — random or otherwise — extraordinary friendships and exemplary volunteers — the extra milers. Tell us of ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of kindness.


Optimism shines through the caring deeds of others. Just as Walt Disney’s movie “Pollyanna” revealed, any one person can transform a community.


Do you know that person?
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KICKOFF ARTICLE for Clark County (The Evening News)
Clark County Has A Special Opportunity for Acts of Kindness
The Extra Milers - By Carol A. Dawson

Acts of kindness are not always a natural process.  Sometimes it takes encouragement and motivation.  Throughout 2004, Clark County citizens witnessed wonderful acts of kindness and compassion detailed in The Evening News.  We can make 2005 even better.  You have the opportunity to take part in making our community a haven for thoughtful acts.  The Evening News has selected March 25 as Clark County Acts of Kindness Day and we are encouraging everyone to join us in this celebration of community. Jeffersonville Mayor Rob Waiz, Charlestown Mayor Mike Hall, and Clarksville Town President John Minta have signed proclamations which designate March 25 to be Random Acts of Kindness Day in Clark County.  There are many ways to participate and most cost you nothing more than a desire to make someone happy.  Here are some suggestions if you wish to participate:

                 * Ask your children to perform at least one act of kindness  - give each a dollar and tell them to use it in their kind act

                 *  Buy the person behind you in line a cup of coffee (or several people)

                 *  Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers

                  *  Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers

                  *  Students can clean classrooms for the custodian
                  *  Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents

                  *  Call or visit a homebound person
                  *  Volunteer at an agency that needs help

                  *  Go by the animal shelter and take a bag of food or treats

                  *  Give another driver your parking spot

                  *  Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through

There are too many acts to list, but this should provide ideas. Last but not least, you can perform the simplest act of all:  Give the gift of your smile freely.

There are other kindness activities happening, both nationally and locally.  Locally, the Derby Dinner Playhouse will perform an upcoming children’s musical relating to kindness and respecting differences, “The Ugly Duckling Revue.”   This play provides a reminder to embrace our differences and to find goodness in those around us.  It is showing February 26, March 5, 12, 19, and 26.

A national Random Acts of Kindness website provides information relating to a school lesson plan contest.    Educators can enter an original lesson plan that incorporates kindness into their classroom to win one of six monthly $100 (US) prizes.  The purpose of the contest is to recognize excellence in lesson plans that encourage kindness in classes and schools.  They are looking for lesson plans that demonstrate kindness or help students understand the benefits of practicing kindness either in their classroom, school or community.  If your school or classroom is interested, go to their website at:  www.actsofkindness.org.   Don’t wait too long, the first monthly winner will be in March.  

Author Albert Schweitzer once said, "Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into a flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."   Each of us has the ability to give light to another…even if it is as simple as a warm greeting and a smile.   

Please send us an email or note about your day.  Did you do something special?  Did something special happen to you or someone in your family?  You don’t have to wait until March 25 – beat the rush and start today. 

The Extra Miler - Column #35 - Never Underestimate the Power of a Child - Cassie Nale and Nina Board
By: Carol A. Dawson











“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”   Anne Frank

All children have the capability of extreme kindness and love – as adults we choose to either nurture or destroy this capability.  Are you programming your children with positive or negative behavior in your home?  When used properly, this power of influence can change our world and erode hate from the lives of our youngest citizens.

This month we recognize Cassie Nale and Nina Board, two young Southern Indiana Extra Milers who demonstrate that we should never underestimate the capacity children have to make a positive difference…no matter their age.  

Nina Board is just five years old and she has already influenced more people than she can imagine…starting with her parents, Kristen and Tommy Board.  Kristen explained, “Last Christmas Nina showed a huge interest in Jesus.  She simply couldn’t get enough information to satisfy her interest.”  Kristen added, “At the time we didn’t attend church regularly.  Nina started asking if she could attend church more often and was concerned if we didn’t go each week.”

Nina described how she feels about church, “I want to know about Jesus and I really like children’s church.”   Because of Nina’s strong personal desire to be part of a church community, her family, including younger sister Isabella, now attend regularly.  When I asked this wide eyed little girl what she enjoyed doing best, she responded without hesitation, “I like to do puzzles and I like to share.”  Sharing her faith appears to be just the beginning for this tiny dancer and Extra Miler Nina Board.

Our next Extra Miler, Cassie Nale has also embraced her religion in a mature manner far beyond her years.  Cassie is a ten year old who attends Christian Academy as a 3rd grader.  Her mother, Debbie Nale-Wassom, noted how sensitive Cassie is to people who are sick or in pain.  “She has heart and passion for other people and she fully grasps the concept of prayer,” Debbie explained.

When Cassie was just six, she began praying fervently for individuals who she had been told were ill.  She prayed for her teacher and an aunt being treated for cancer, she prayed for a classmate who had a brain tumor, and she prayed for a young man with brain cancer, Brandon Miller.  Cassie then decided to literally run the extra mile and began distance racing to raise money for charitable causes.

Her first race was dedicated to Brandon Miller, who surprised Cassie by showing up at the race with a bouquet of flowers.  It was the first time they met.  Cassie is running today in a 3 mile race to raise money for a cure for breast cancer.  When asked why she feels so strong about praying and helping others, Cassie responded sincerely, “It is something God guides me to do…and it just feels like the right thing to do.”

Both Extra Milers are beautiful, soft spoken little girls with big hearts and a desire to help others through their faith.  Never underestimate the power of goodness within our children.

Thank you, Nina and Cassie, for being our youngest Southern Indiana Extra Milers.

Kindness Tip of the Month:  It is never too late to involve your child in volunteer or charitable activities.  Listen to your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews – ask them how they would like to help others – and make good use of their interest.

When my son, Jeff, was just seven years old, he talked about his concern for animals without good homes.  The next day we were headed to the Humane Association to ask how we could help.  Jeff began collecting cans in the neighborhood, recycling large bags of aluminum, and donating the money to the Humane Association.  Two years of recycling and a few hundred dollars demonstrated the power of one small child to help the animals he deeply loved.

The quickest way to change our world is to begin with our youngest citizens.  Today and everyday, ensure your words and acts are what you wish to see reflected in their eyes.

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THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 52- January 3, 2009












Wooldridge and TMSi

Seated First Row Left to Right, Jim Pasierbowicz, Beverly Lewis, Ronald Kohan, Damon Rowe, Second Row Left to Right, Richard Peach, Gary Carroll, Robert Wooldridge, Steve Mitchell, Necolle Banks, Brandon Feeler, Nathan Burt.  Absent from the photo was Clayton Cagle, Sheniquia Bell, John Bigelow, Sonya Staten, Terry Bale (GE Industrial), and Jamie Herman (GE Industrial).

The Extra Milers
By: Carol A. Dawson

Happy New Year 2009 Southern Indiana!

Danny Thomas once said, “All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don’t discover why.  Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself.  It’s what you do for others.” Let Mr. Thomas’ words drift into your thoughts for just a moment.  

A random act of kindness should not be accomplished for personal benefit; however, there is truly no way around it.  Immediately upon performing an act of kindness, there is a surge of beta endorphins and human growth hormone within the body which causes a significant neuroendocrine effect.

Simply put, your happy hormones have a party.  Therefore, even when we try to not personally benefit from our good deeds, we still do…by osmosis.

Southern Indiana is unique in that we have an inordinate number of people who are prone to both deliberate and spontaneous acts of kindness.  Let’s make 2009 special by kicking off a year-long effort to show the nation that we have the goods to “git er’ done.”  

February 9 – 15 is recognized across the country as Random Acts of Kindness Week.  The News-Tribune would like Southern Indiana to take the lead in creating and delivering acts of compassion and thoughtfulness.

Tell us about your acts of kindness, random or planned.  Also, report an act of kindness bestowed upon you. The Evening News/New Albany tribune web site will record our journey through 2009.  Submissions may be emailed to: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com. or mail: THE EXTRA MILERS, The Evening News, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN  47130-3340.

Kicking off 2009, let me introduce our Extra Milers for January.  The employees who work for TMSi Facility #5100 in Jeffersonville are special Extra Milers to a five year old boy in Boise, Idaho named Joseph Tacke and his mother, Suzanne Harding.  

I recently received an Idaho Statesman newspaper clipping from a high school friend.  She included this note, “Well, even people in Boise are now learning about the kindness of folks in Jeffersonville.”  The article heading: “Frankie’s Big Adventure:  A Boise Boy’s Stuffed Monkey Got Shipped To Indiana By Mistake, And Wow, What A Time He Had.”  

Apparently Joseph Tacke had been playing with his best buddy, a stuffed monkey named Frankie and some large boxes.  Joseph inadvertently left Frankie in one of the boxes, which was then picked up by FedEx later in the day, mistaken for a box of GE parts that were to go back to the warehouse.  

Joseph was devastated and his mother began frantically calling and searching for the monkey.  Frankie’s adventure took him through several states, ultimately landing in Jeffersonville’s GE TMSi Facility #1500, a distribution and processing center.   

Upon hearing the container might be in his facility, TMSi’s facility manager, Robert Wooldridge, put out an All Points Bulletin (well, sort of) that the box with the stuffed animal was to be found that day, no matter the time or effort required.  Wooldridge explained, “It wasn’t an easy task – up to a half million packages come through our building each day.”  

It took about three hours to find Frankie and he was air-shipped to Joseph that afternoon.  Wooldridge explained, “We wanted Joseph to have his monkey back the next day, but not before personalizing the visit to Jeffersonville.”  

Frankie (given the nickname “Boss”) was posed operating a forklift and also sitting behind a desk with a cup of coffee.  Photographs were taken and Wooldridge wrote a story about Frankie’s adventure and the day he spent helping out at TMSi.  Included with Frankie’s shipment were hats, a flashlight, and a night light.

Wooldridge explained, “The extra effort for Joseph helped us also…it gave us a nice break from the normal routine of the day.”  Wooldridge added, “Many of us have young children and we understood how upset Joseph must have been when he realized his stuffed monkey was lost.”

Wooldridge is embarrassed about the attention this story has been given and true to Extra Miler form, he emphasized that he did not act alone, “The employees who worked to find Joseph’s monkey did nothing out of the ordinary…servant leadership is just one of seven values of our company.”  Going the extra mile is instinctive for the employees of TMSi Facility #5100 and Southern Indiana (and a little boy in Boise) is grateful.   

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Make plans to be part of the Random (or premeditated) Acts of Kindness Week – February 9-15, 2009.  Involve your family, school, office, neighbors and friends.  Be creative – be bold – and go that extra mile in 2009.

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The Extra Miler - Article #25 - Russ Denison - Natural Born Volunteer
By Carol A. Dawson











 
The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.”  — Swedish proverb

Some people get hit by an earth-shattering wake up call that propels them into the life of an Extra Miler for a particular charity or cause.  Others seem to come by the title as a birthright.  Our Southern Indiana Extra Miler this month believes he fits into the second category.

Russ Denison Sr. feels he was born to assist those who are less fortunate and in need of a helping hand.  Russ gives of his time, talents, and finances without reservation and without need for attention.  He is a humble man who has gained the respect of all who know him.  

Russ’s son, Rusty Denison, describes his father as a man “motivated by his loving and caring nature and his desire to remain active with his friends and community.”  As it is so often with our Extra Milers, Rusty explains that his father is deeply rooted in his faith.  “The most important lesson I have learned from him is that having a positive Christian attitude and working hard will pay off in life.”  

Russ Denison began volunteering his time with the “Helping Hands” ministry of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in New Albany over 50 years ago when it was located in the current New Albany Tribune building.  His involvement in the program began with a simple “paper drive,” hosted by the church and the Boy Scouts.  The project, funded through individual donations from the congregation, progressed through different phases but the focus was always to provide a “Helping Hand” to individuals in need who find their way into our community.  Russ stayed with the program throughout each transition.  

W.A. Amerson has been friends with Russ for over 60 years, “Russ loves people – all people.  He helps with everything he has – his hands – his feet – his heart.”  W.A. adds, “This man is a dynamic and faithful servant of God…and an all around wonderful person.”   

I spoke with Russ and asked him what motivates his volunteer efforts and he quickly responded, “It is the way God made me.  Because of that, it is a pure joy to work with the Helping Hands Ministry.” Russ provided details of the program, indicating they often come to the aid of people just passing through our community.

I asked Russ how these individuals find out about Helping Hands and he explained, “The business community typically refers people in need, but even I am sometimes surprised at the route some take to find us.  Many people are referred through motels and hotels, but we also have a lot of local folks who need a little assistance now and then.”

I asked Russ what he would say to someone who might believe that volunteering is a waste of time.  He didn’t miss a beat with his response, “I can’t even imagine someone saying something like that…volunteering for others helps the entire community.  The benefits far outweigh the time or support you give.”  

In the past 5-6 years, the Helping Hands charity of Wesley Chapel has given over $151,000 in aid.  Russ Denison has been an integral part of that effort since 1950 and he has no intention of stopping any time soon.  There is no doubt he has always known what was at the end of his outstretched arms – open and loving helping hands.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:  There are many simple ways to show kindness. Little things, that cost you nothing, can make an amazing difference in another person’s life.  Make up small business cards that state, “Thank You For Your Kindness.  It was sincerely appreciated.”  Add a meaningful quote.  Leave the card with anyone who has done something nice, i.e., a waiter/waitress who has been especially friendly or efficient (don’t forget the tip), a coach who takes extra time to help a struggling player, a cashier who always greets you with a smile and words of appreciation, or send it with your child to a teacher who has gone the Extra Mile,.  If you don’t have access to cards and a printer, I would be happy to mail you some cards.  Send your name and address to the email or address below.

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THE EXTRA MILERS  -Column #20- LOVING FRIEND, Jay Crutcher - In Memory
By Carol Dawson

"We were put on this planet to care for one another and that is what I try to do."









Jay Crutcher

Jay (Jay-bird) Crutcher came into my life one year ago this month while featuring him as one of our Extra Milers. He invited me into his life with his arms wide open in loving friendship, often using the phrase, “You mean the world to me.” Early in our friendship, I often wondered how I could mean the world to someone who knew me for such a short time. In the following months Jay provided the answer.

With a broken heart, I tell you Jay Crutcher passed away last week after an aneurysm destroyed all brain activity. Jay lived in Louisville and was the first non-Southern Indiana resident Extra Miler. I couldn’t resist…he was a classic do-gooder. Jay lived life serving others, despite having the very debilitating disease, Osteo Imperfecta (OI). He believed walking is over-rated, instead believing the heart and mind should be the focal points in our lives.

Jay was at church when his body failed him one last time. He soon went into a coma and never came out. I stood by Jay’s bed in intensive care, talking to his father, Jack Crutcher, and grandmother, Aileen Crutcher, about the times life failed him and the times he was the happiest. As we watched Jay’s unresponsive body, Jack, a soft spoken man, began talking about organ donation. My eyes rose to see the anguish of this loving father. Still, it was obvious that he realized something good could come of this tragic loss. Jay would have been proud to know he saved the lives of several people through his death. It seems a bit ironic really…that this young man who very much wanted to be feel needed … concluded his life by giving the hope of new life to people he had never met.

To each person given life or sight through Jay’s organ and cornea donations, may his body give you strength and dignity. To the person who received Jay’s heart – you are the most blessed of all – for his small body held one of the largest hearts imaginable. Jay’s capacity to love was limitless. Truly there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to make another person feel happy and safe.

Jay often felt he was not enough…enough of a friend…enough of a student…enough of a musician…enough of a regular-guy. His body limited participation in high school activities and he often felt ostracized from peers. Still, his family speaks little of the times when Jay’s heart was broken by uncaring or unknowing individuals but more of his celebration of life. Jay sought friends who would care about and love him unconditionally. He offered absolute love and friendship in return.

His relationships in Southern Indiana began as Jay became intrigued with the thought that stronger muscles might provide the support he needed for fragile bones (he quit counting at 200 breaks). Angie Maxwell (and her Jazzercise instructors) became his trainers and friends. Jay felt immediate inclusion. Each week, he took a Tarc van to his physical exercise class, quickly becoming part of Angie’s family. Angie nominated Jay as an Extra Miler.

Jay and I quickly became friends. A few months ago Jay began asking about my church affiliation and soon he was attending First Christian Church (FCC) with my family. Within a few weeks, he joined FCC and soon thereafter Jay was baptized. He was embraced by the FCC community and his joy was evident.

In Southern Indiana, Jay found the inclusion he was looking for his entire life…he found unconditional love. As I reflect upon the words unconditional love, I realize that I failed to verbally express how much Jay’s friendship truly meant to me. Because I failed to do this adequately while he was alive, it is with a heavy heart and many tears of sorrow that I do so now.

Jay, I love you for the kindness you gave to this world. I love you for your ability to forgive all of life’s failures. I love you for teaching me that we all have more to give…even when we think we have given enough. I love you for the joy you gave to those around you. I love you for enduring the pain of feeling excluded from so much of life and yet remaining a positive influence and tremendous inspiration. Jay-bird Crutcher, your friendship truly meant the world to me. Now I understand.

Kindness Tip of the Month: If there is a friend in your life who you value and love, let them know. It has been said that truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget. When you find that truly great friend, let him or her know they will always be in your heart.

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and owner of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc . If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an EXTRA MILER, let us know about it. To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or send mail to: THE EXTRA MILERS, The Evening News, Attn: Carol Dawson, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.

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Good Intentions Just Don’t Count - Column #7 - Evelyn and Diane McMillin
The Extra Milers
By Carol A. Dawson










 

Sometimes we tend to forget what we don’t see. We don’t see the sick child who can’t make it to school for weeks or months, or the aging grandmother who is unable to leave her home without significant trauma. We are so busy, after all, with our day to day lives - working hard, volunteering, or trying to squeeze in family fun, exercise, and television. Don’t we get some credit for good intentions? I’ve been contemplating good intentions and have come to the conclusion that those unrequited intentions are worthless, unless we actually follow through.

Recently I decided to talk to a couple of women who have been trapped on my good intention list for several months…see if you can think of people you know who may be similarly trapped on your list. Check your calendar to find the most recent date you took action on your good intentions, then pick up the phone, call and make a date.

Evelyn sat near me at church for several years and I immediately fell in love with this sweet natured grandmother who always sported a big smile and only spoke kind words. I began to talk to her and her daughter, Diane, and was hooked when Evelyn soon began greeting me with, “I’m so glad to see you…I just love you.” She endeared herself to anyone who took the time to speak to her and nothing has changed, except that Evelyn can no longer make it to church or much of anywhere outside of her home. She fell several years ago and broke her hip. Recovery was slow and when released from rehabilitation, she moved in with her daughter, Diane. Diane is what we would all want in a daughter…smart, funny, loyal, dedicated, and loving. Diane never thought twice about where her mother would live.

I have visited Diane, Evelyn, and their Bischon dog, Murphy on several occasions; however, I must say that more often they have been on my good intention radar. If kind thoughts were dollars many of us would be rich. I recently sat with Evelyn and Diane for a while to catch up with their lives. My first question was to ask Evelyn what makes her happy. She gently reached around to Diane, touched her arm and said, “She makes me happy. She is as good as gold to me.” It is clear she is happy living with her daughter in their tidy and inviting home. Evelyn went on to add others in her family who make her happy, specifically her son, Bill, who lives in Atlanta .


Bill calls his mother twice a day and visits as often as his job will allow. Evelyn, who turns 93 years old on Columbus Day this year, is very proud of her family; however, when I ask her about friends, her smile slightly fades. She tells me that many of her friends are gone, as are many of her family members. There is great sadness in her voice when she speaks of her departed friends, husband and other family members. Clearly, she misses having them in her life.

Evelyn said she lost track of friends and acquaintances after her health made it difficult to leave the house. “They just don’t have time to come by and I really do understand that people are very busy.” She is not bitter – quite the opposite, Evelyn is happy to tell you about Wanda, an old neighbor who still calls her quite often, visits and calls from her family, and visits from the church clergy. She would like the calls and visits to be more often, but is resolved to the fact that people on-the-go don’t always have her name in their palm pilots or on their desk calendars. Evelyn is, quite simply, happy to be in their thoughts and prayers…and on their good intention list.

Is it time for you to call and visit the Evelyn in your life? If time will not permit a call, can you send a card to let him or her know that you have them in your thoughts? Add a friend or family member who is unable to leave their home to your calendar as a reminder to follow through on this simple act of kindness. After all, if we live long enough, we may one day be on someone’s list ourselves.

Kindness Tip of the Month : When you go through a restaurant drive up window – ask how much the next order is – if you have the extra change and it is within your budget – pay for their order. Tell the cashier this is a random act of kindness and ask him/her to tell the next driver to pass it on…then drive away with a big smile on your face knowing your act is certain to be a bright spot of that next customer’s day. The look on the cashier’s face is just a freebee.

The Evening News is looking for your stories of kindness. If you know of someone who goes that extra mile or have a story of a random (or not so random) act of kindness, please tell us about it.
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he Extra Miler - Mom C. connects  us to Extra Milers Barbara Stabley and Gloria Haydock - Column #58 - June 6, 2009
By Carol A. Dawson









Mom C. on her birthday











Barbara and Gloria with Mishka and Kelly

It is my belief that God draws closer to us during our times of pain and grief.  For the past several weeks, my family has leaned heavily on our faith and the Extra Milers in our lives.

At the end of April, my family received the sad and unexpected news that my mother-in-law passed away.  Barbara Crutchfield (Mom C) was the epitome of an Extra Miler.  She truly cared about every living thing and thought of others before herself.  She led a happy and good life for 85 years, principally because she designed it to be that way.

Mom C treated everyone she met with respect and dignity and never had a negative word to say about anyone.  She worked as a beloved elementary school PE teacher for over 40 years in Miami, retired, and immediately began volunteering full shifts with the Miami Metro Zoo.  She had an easy-going smile and a generous laugh.  Everyone she met became a friend.

If such a thing is possible, Mom C was generous to a fault. Although certainly not wealthy, she contributed very generously to many charities and non-profits.  She was an amateur photographer and began taking photographs of the zoo animals.  Her unique photos became cherished gifts for many employees and volunteers at the zoo.

When my husband, Ken and I were given the sad news of Mom C’s passing, we immediately made our plans to fly to Miami to be with his sister and to assist with the funeral and other arrangements.  Everything was chaotic.  We were invited to stay in the home of a family friend, Barbara Stabley.  We had not previously met Barbara and yet she opened her home to our family.

Barbara Stabley not only shares the same name as Mom C, but there are uncanny similarities in their demeanor, words, and actions.  This was an immediate comfort to us.

As we entered Barbara’s home, we met her best friend and neighbor, Gloria Haydock.  Gloria was a professional tap dancer when she was in her teens and twenties.  She has a wonderful sense of humor that immediately put our lives into quick perspective.  These two Extra Milers made the next several days comfortable and as relaxing as possible.  My sister-in-law, Linda Crutchfield describes Barbara and Gloria, “They are the type of people who step in when they see or hear of a need.”  She added, “Our family needed a place to gather and to grieve – Barbara did not hesitate to offer her home.”   

While visiting with Barbara and Gloria, we didn’t just find comfort; we also found friendship, love and much needed guidance.  Nobody in our immediate family had previous experience arranging for a funeral or memorial and it was Barbara and Gloria who provided direction and hands-on support to help us through the decisions.  As our thoughts seemed to be passing through a fog, Barbara and Gloria offered a beacon of light.

Barbara and Gloria put their lives on hold to be with our family during our time of sadness.  Their guidance and encouragement eased the burdens that accompany such a difficult time.

Back home, our Southern Indiana Extra Miler friends expressed their sympathy and offered to help.  We received over a hundred cards, emails, letters, and donations to Mom C’s favorite charities.  Our neighbors, the Allen Family, even mowed our lawn – twice.

We are so very grateful to everyone.  However, it was the acts of two strangers that will forever be blazed into our memories.  Barbara and Gloria, you stepped in to hold our hands and while doing so, you touched our hearts.

To Barbara and Gloria, and all the Extra Milers who helped our family through this time of sadness, thank you for your compassion and friendship.

Kindness Tip of the Month:   Do not wait until it is too late to talk to your family about what you want to happen when you pass away.  Your loved ones will be dealing with the grief over your loss and decision making is usually not at peak performance.  Working out the details early is a noble and significant gift to your family.  The following is an excellent web site to help plan your own funeral/memorial service or to help make plans for a loved one who has passed on:  http://dying.about.com/od/funeralsandmemorials/ht/plan_a_funeral.htm

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Carol's newspaper column THE EXTRA MILERS ~ News and Tribune ~ Columns 1-58
Featuring People Who Make a Difference in the Lives of Others

THE EXTRA MILERS & OUR PETS - Column #6 - Phyllis Hilton
Carol A. Dawson













There is a place where you can go to find 30 or more pair of eyes looking at you with love. In this place, there is a large white Alice in Wonderland rabbit who thinks he is a cat (rubbing against your hands and legs to get attention). There are numerous cats crying to be touched and held, puppies who temporarily stop their romping to plead for you to pick them up, and several grown dogs who have figured out how to look through the windows from the back yard to greet visitors. Phyllis Hilton invites you to tumble into her world to meet these animals and to enjoy the love of the Clark County Human Association animals. She is the Executive Director and agreed to my interview only because she is happy to publicize the organization. Phyllis is a modest woman who I have admired and volunteered with on and off for 11 years. However, Phyllis was a primary advocate for our animals well before I came to Clark County . In her job, she lives to work instead of working to live.

While visiting the Humane Association on Middle Road for this interview, I watched as Phyllis picked up and cuddled a scruffy little dog that had been dropped off by her owner. She said the dog, which had clearly been held often in the past, needed special attention and she tried to give it to her when possible. “When possible” means when Phyllis is not cleaning up the floor, feeding the animals, taking them in for veterinary visits, giving medication, bathing, or repairing the puppy playroom. Since her love for these animals is obvious, I asked her to tell me about the most difficult part of her job. She didn’t hesitate, “The hardest thing for me to do is to tell someone on the telephone that we cannot take an animal simply because we have no more room.” The Humane Association is a “no kill” association and the animals have a home forever if they are not adopted by a new family.


new animal cannot be added until a family falls in love and completes the adoption process for a new pet. When asked about her hours of service, Phyllis advised she puts in approximately 9-10 hours a day – five days a week and 8-9 hours on weekends; however, she is quick to add that the organization is dependent upon several hard working and dedicated volunteers. Her motivation is clear-cut, “The thought of these animals being euthanized or on the street isn’t something I handle very well. My chosen work is to save as many as I can.” Phyllis thought for awhile and added, “…and it will never be enough.” Indeed it would be easy to feel this way. While talking with Phyllis for a couple of hours, she received numerous calls from people who wanted to drop off their pets or strays. The Association home is currently filled to capacity and she had to tell them there was no room.

Phyllis began helping animals about 20 years ago when she noticed a neighbor wasn’t caring for their dog. She called to get the city to help the animal; however, nothing happened. She decided to take care of the problem herself and bought the dog a shelter. She then started going to Humane Association meetings to find out what she could do to help our local animals. Phyllis sadly pointed out, “The need never ends. As long as we do not spay or neuter our pets, they will continue to over-populate and there are more animals than families who want them.”

Phyllis used to play music with the Louisville Orchestra; however, she gave it up, adding, “I no longer have interest in my musical career…all I care about is saving these animals.” Her husband, Joe Fetter, is extremely supportive of the work Phyllis does with the animals and puts in many hours also. He never knows when he will be called upon to act as a handy-man, maintenance man, or even Santa Claus.

When asked what she would want the public to know about the animals and the adoption process, Phyllis responded, “It isn’t easy to find the right homes for our animals. They need to be safe, have room to run and play, and to be loved.” She added, “It is easy to love a puppy or kitten initially because they are so cute, but when they go home and begin chewing or scratching furniture or crying during the night, many families are ready to return them.” Phyllis goes to great lengths to match up the right family with the right pet, to create a long term loving family relationship.

The Humane Association animals live at 2702 Middle Road ( Jeffersonville ) and Phyllis indicated they were extremely pleased with this facility, which was purchased a few years ago. “A kind hearted lady on our mailing list put the Humane Association in her will. We were so surprised and grateful for the gift. It allowed us to bring our animals together in one place where we can bring potential families to visit.”

Phyllis didn’t need time to contemplate her personal wish list, “People need to step up and get involved in their community in a volunteer capacity. There are so many organizations with needs in Clark County , such as the library or the scouts or of course the Humane Association. Things don’t get taken care of on their own and you can’t rely on the government to do it all for us.” As I left the company of this dedicated Clark County Extra Miler, I do believe I heard the white cat...ummm, I mean rabbit purring as Phyllis stopped to scratch its head.

You can contact the Humane Association via their web site at: www.humaneassocofclarkcounty.com or by calling 812-285-8703. They are looking for good homes and dedicated volunteer extra milers.

Continuing on with this pet theme, one of my beloved dogs, Dundee , passed away recently from cancer. It was a difficult time for our family. Several days later a card came to our home from our pet’s veterinarian at Allison Lane Animal Hospital . The card was signed from our pet’s doctor and the staff and the loving sentiments brought tears to my eyes. Our pets live for our love and to please us – even when they (or we) are not sure what that might be. Years ago I copied this verse for the front of our pet file, “He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” I doubt few of us truly are worthy, but I know the short list would include our Extra Milers, Phyllis Hilton, the volunteers throughout Clark County who give our animals love, safety and security, and our veterinarians who take the time to ease suffering and to go that extra mile.

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THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 50 - November 1, 2008 - By Carol Dawson









Lorie Nevils

“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.”  Pablo Casals

Brittle leaves crushed as I walked the neighborhood with my two dogs.  The Cattledog mix reared her head to watch a wedge of honking geese flying in their “V” formation pass overhead.  I stopped and watched them glide across the sky, realizing my beloved summer was over.   

Several seconds later, there came a loud shout. There was a lone bird struggling to catch up to the others.  I wondered if the stressed goose would eventually catch up or would it be abandoned.  I thought about our Extra Miler this month, Lorie Nevils.  Lorie doesn’t like for anyone (people or animals) to be left behind or forsaken.  She cares about the underdog and will quickly drop back to be sure no one is forsaken.

The first time I met Lorie Nevils, she was working in the kitchen of First Christian Church, organizing a meal for the congregation to raise money to fund the Clothe-A-Child project and Christmas baskets of food for those in need.  She was much like the conductor of an orchestra – waving her arms as she provided instruction and guidance to ensure the line moved quickly and everyone was well fed.  She was confident in her task and it was obvious that she placed considerable emphasis on having everything organized and everyone accommodated.  

Lorie is a straight talking woman with the motto, “When you know me, you know what you see is what you get…no surprises.”  I liked her immediately.

Lorie is a care-giver, plain and simple.  If you are hungry, she will feed you.  She will not ask questions because she doesn’t care why you are hungry – she only cares that you are. If you are weary or stressed, she will offer you a place to sit and talk.  

On the day the lights went out in Southern Indiana (after our recent storm), the American Red Cross (ARC) called First Christian Church (FCC) for help.  They needed a shelter for individuals without electricity who needed a safe place to sleep.  Many FCC members contributed to ensuring the needs of these individuals were met, including three meals a day.  There were so many who volunteered as part of the Kitchen/Celebrations Ministry Team that Lorie couldn’t list them for fear of missing someone; however, she emphasized that they were the real Extra Milers…not her.  

Typical of being an Extra Miler herself, Lorie states, “I absolutely don’t do anything exceptional…I just enjoy feeding hungry people and I couldn’t do it without all the volunteers.”

Despite the fact that Lorie had just been released from the hospital from severe abdominal pains when the ARC sent their SOS, Lorie and her team assessed the food in the pantry and freezer and purchased whatever was needed to feed and care for the temporary residents.

The ARC Executive Director, Phyllis Wilkins, was extremely grateful, “I cannot say enough good things about the members of First Christian – they have rolled out the welcome mat for the community with such graciousness and love, it’s overwhelming to witness.”  

Phyllis added, “On the first evening after the storm, there were 44 people enjoying a home-cooked meal of shrimp cocktail, chicken casserole, green beans, homemade desserts, even flowers on the tables, thanks to Lorie, Melana (Fischer), Amanda (Wagoner) and a number of other volunteers! The camaraderie was contagious, very upbeat.”  

When the ARC no longer needed the church as an overnight shelter, Lorie took stock of the situation in her community.  She knew there were thousands still without electricity, with no way to cook a hot meal or even keep food cold.  Our Extra Miler didn’t dawdle; people were hungry – she knew this – so the decision was made, with church approval, to continue cooking until there was no longer a need.   In the next four days, Lorie’s FCC team fed over 1,100 Southern Indiana residents at no cost to them or the community.  Donations of food and money miraculously flowed in to cover the majority of the expenses for the meals.

Sonya Hedge, Lorie’s sister-in-law , summed Lorie up very well, “Lorie is happiest when her driveway and house is full and when she is giving or doing for others…her purpose in life is to care for people (or animals) in need, expecting absolutely nothing in return.”   She adds, “I’ve seen her give to others even when it meant doing without herself.”  

Without fanfare, without bells or whistles, or even a honking goose that is lagging behind, Lorie Nevils makes caring an everyday simple activity.   Thank you, Lorie Nevils, for being generous with your love, your life, and your talents.  You are truly a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  Hope you are feeling well soon.   

Kindness Tip of the Month

“If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved.”  Bono
Lorie’s Tip is for those of you who are Extra Milers…don’t hesitate to ask others to help.  Many people wait in the wings for their chance to step forward and provide assistance on community and church activities and events – they just need a little push or invitation to step forward.
 
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The Extra Miler  - Column #30 - McCulloch Fire Department offer even more than their lives for others     

By:  Carol A. Dawson











Pick up any national publication and there is rarely a day that it doesn’t include stories of heroism and bravery from our public servants.  This month, Southern Indiana celebrates the men and women who serve part of our community as firefighters who work and volunteer for the McCulloch Fire Department, in Jeffersonville.

The firefighters of the McCulloch Fire Department are Extra Milers because of the work they do to save lives and property, in addition to their passionate participation collecting donations for the (WHAS) Crusade for Children.

As my husband, Ken, and I were driving through Jeffersonville and dropping change in the Crusade buckets last month, we saw the McCulloch Department going the extra mile to raise money for the children.  Ten firefighters (and family) were accepting Crusade donations for washing vehicles.

As our car was being washed, the firefighters joked happily with one another as if they were family.  It occurred to me that all of the firefighters were volunteering their time for the Crusade while many were simultaneously serving as volunteers for their community.

The McCulloch Firefighter’s efforts paid off for the Crusade.  The car wash brought in over $500 and overall they collected $20,049 for schools, agencies and hospitals to better the lives of special needs children. This amount rivaled much larger city fire departments, confirming their Extra Miler status. How did they do it?

The firefighters give credit to Capt. Jeff Everett, also known as Captain Blood.  He acquired this title because he “goes for blood” when motivating the McCulloch Firefighters to raise money for the Crusade.   

McCulloch Fire Chief Dave Tenney was not surprised to see his team recognized as Extra Milers, “These firefighters stand out because of their pride and camaraderie. They are a great team with a goal to help the community with issues most others cannot face.”

Because of the extreme nature of their work, stress relief is essential.  Some of the fire departments participate in good natured pranks organized against competing stations called “Crusade Wars.”  They note that nobody is hurt during the war.

Lt. Brent Oliver said he has always known firefighting was what he wanted to do, “As a kid, I got a lot of whippings from starting fires so I could put them out,” quickly adding that he doesn’t recommend such actions to children.

When it comes to doing their jobs, the firefighters advised they are all business,  They risk their lives because of their natural desire to keep their neighborhood safe, adding that they are protecting their neighbors, family, and friends.  Firefighter Heather Pieropan stated, “We are motivated by helping others with a wide variety of concerns.  We never know what we will be called upon to do.”   Capt. Greg Linker added there isn’t anything the men and women would rather be doing than working as firefighters, noting that most spend time at the station even when they are not scheduled to work.

Fire Chief Tenny noted there is clearly a lot of pride, “We run toward danger when others are running out.  It is simply what we do and we love doing it.”    Chief Tenny, the McCulloch Firefighters, and all public servants who risk their lives for the residents of Southern Indiana, there is nothing “simple” about what you do.  You live lives of duty and honor and for that you are true heroes and Extra Milers.  Thank you.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:  I asked our Extra Milers what the public can do to thank them for their service.  They said they needed the support from the public to ensure they keep their jobs.  They fear an annexation of parts of Jeffersonville could mean many, if not all, may lose the jobs.  An emotional silence fell upon the firefighters as they thought about those consequences.

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The Extra Miler - Article #26 - Sunny and Vicki Slider - Bringing Joy and Comfort
By Carol A. Dawson
















“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.”  Gilda Radner

She knows she is a star, as she walks into the room with a poise and confidence that few others possess. However, there was no envy toward her head turning ability, only admiration.   She knew that everyone was there to see her…touch her…to show their love and to feel that love returned.  She didn’t let them down…not for a minute.  Sunny, a gentle, sad eyed yellow Labrador Retriever Therapy Dog, walked into the room with her best friend (and driver), Vicki Slider, to entertain the residents of Sellersburg Health and Rehab Centre, as she does a couple of times each month.

Sunny, who doesn’t hide the fact that she has a thing for people who are in wheelchairs or who spend considerable time in a bed, immediately took control of the crowd; some 20 anxious faces that brightened the minute she came through the door.  With Vicki by her side, Sunny immediately began visiting her friends, making sure to happily greet each person in the room.  

Vicki watched closely to ensure everyone was able to be up close and personal with Sunny while each person’s territory or comfort level was respected.   However, after 8 years on the job, Sunny has a natural instinct for who wants to pat her head, who wants to have her paws gently placed in their laps, or who wants to give her a hug and hold her face in their hands.  Because of her star status, Sunny has also graciously learned to accept kisses from some of her adoring fans.

The Centre’s Director of Activities, Shane Patterson, noted, “Vicki and Sunny's visits promote an increase in our resident's functional skills, social skills, and coping skills.  Their visits allow us to implement sensory re-education to each of our residents in a manner not recognized as clinical.  Vicki's warm smile and Sunny's wagging tail allows each individual to feel accepted and appreciated regardless of their decline in physical abilities.”  

Sunny and Vicki are extremely patient.  Sunny visits everyone who comes to visit with her at least four times individually before she is ready to move on to another part of the Centre.  I walked with the Extra Miler team to “Memory Row,” where many of the Alzheimer’s patients reside.  

As Sunny and Vicki walk from room to room, Vicki indicated she is especially proud of the response Sunny gets from the patients who spent most of their time in beds.  “Sunny is trained to even get into the patient’s bed if it is the only way someone can enjoy her company.  She is extremely gentle.”  One afternoon a resident took Sunny’s leash and started to walk to her room, advising that they were tired and going to bed.  Vicki followed and watching as the resident climbed into her bed and then patted the bed for Sunny to join her.  Sunny gently climbed into the bed next to her and laid her head on the woman’s chest.  The two of them closed their eyes and went to sleep.  Vicki sat next to them quietly until dark; knowing this was what her dog was meant to do…to give comfort and to sooth their pain.   

Sunny was trained to be a Therapy Dog when she was two years old.  A friend from Vicki’s church told her this work would be a perfect mix for her love of animals and older adults.  Sunny was a natural with her good nature and Labrador charm.  Therapy Dogs are encouraged to retire between ten and twelve years of age.  Sunny is nearly 11 years old.  Vicki provided this fact with tears in her eyes.  It is evident to Vicki that Sunny has been a little slower the past few months and isn’t quite as enthusiastic about leaving the house.  Vicki adds, “Still, Sunny perks up as soon as she catches sight of the first wheelchair.  This tells me she isn’t ready to retire.”  

There is something about a pet that touches our hearts – possibly because they are so trusting while simultaneously demonstrating unconditional love.  As I watched Sunny move about from person to person, I could see, if just for a few minutes, the residents of Sellersburg Health and Rehab Centre being transported back to a place where they had their own pets back in their arms…and they were the stars.  

Because Vicki Slider and Sunny continue to bring such joy to so many people in Southern Indiana, we thank them for being our Extra Milers.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Vicki tells me there is a tremendous need for more Therapy Dogs in our area.  Do you have a friendly dog?  Possibly your pup could be a Therapy Dog.  As a volunteer, you can take your dog to visit schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.  The dogs are put through an evaluation and if the dog qualifies, they are trained and certified as Therapy Dogs.  If this interests you, contact Therapy Dogs, Inc. at their main office:  877-843-7364 or 307-432-0272 (website:  therapydogsinc@gwest.net).

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The Extra Miler - Column #36 (October 2007) - HOOSIER CHEER FOR OUR TROOPS
By: Carol A. Dawson

This is a special Extra Miler column dedicated to the brave men and women who are serving, or have served in our military overseas.   

My family bleeds red, white, and blue.  My father, Archie L. Baker, was a Sergeant Major in the Army who served in three wars and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.  My brothers and I proudly refer to ourselves as Army Brats.  Both brothers are now Colonels in the Army, and like my father, have dedicated themselves to protecting the freedoms we often take for granted in this country.  

There are quite a few emails filtering through the system which show the hardships our troops are going through overseas and most are accompanied with emotional music.  They are certainly effective in provoking tears of appreciation and concern.  Many will say a silent prayer or stop to reflect on the images for a moment.  Then, as quickly as we have closed the email, most of us pull up another and move on.  

An email came through last week that stopped my regular fast-paced routine.  The video can be found on You Tube (When a Soldier Comes Home…).  A portion of the writing is paraphrased in lieu of the very poignant photos of our troops in wartime situations which was used in the video.  

When A Soldier Comes Home…

When a soldier comes home, he finds it hard…

To listen to his son whine about being bored…

While he has been standing guard for hours a day while on duty, waiting.

To keep a straight face when people complain about potholes…

While he has traveled over roads and bridges torn to pieces by bombs and artillery.

To be tolerant of people who complain about the hassle of getting ready for work…

When often used bottled water to shave and bathe before putting on full military gear.  

To be understanding when a co-worker complains about a bad night’s sleep…

When he has slept on top of cars, tanks, and in holes dug into the ground.

To be silent when people pray to God for a new car….

When he knows prayers are needed for the lives of our sons, daughters, husbands, and wives who are defending our freedom so far away.

To control his panic when his wife tells him he needs to drive slower…

When he has just left a place where going slow could mean losing your life or the life of someone else.

To be compassionate when a businessman expresses fear of flying…

When our troops are often flying into battle to save lives or to bring their buddies home.   

To be grateful that he fights for the freedom of speech…

While every day, lives are being lost to give this freedom.

To keep from laughing when anxious parents say they are afraid to send their kids off to summer camp…

While our soldiers are often just out of high school, spending months and years away from home and family.

To keep from ridiculing someone who complains about hot weather…

While he has lived through dust storms and temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, while wearing several layers of heavy, protective clothing.

To control his frustration when a colleague gripes about his coffee being cold…

While his daily concerns have been with survival, death, and destruction.

To remain calm when his daughter complains about having to walk the dog…

While as a soldier, he walked hundreds of miles never knowing when the next step would be his last.

To be civil to people who complain about their jobs…

When his military job has been about life and death.

To just walk away when someone says they only get two weeks of vacation a year…

When just a day without fear of death or injury would have been a vacation to him while overseas.

To be happy for a friend’s new hot tub…

When a worn out mattress for a bed has been considered a luxury.

To be forgiving when someone says how hard it is to have a new baby in the house…

When all could think of for the past year was how much he wanted to see his family.

To not punch a wall when someone says we should pull out immediately…

When he has seen the lives affected by war.  

The only thing harder than being a soldier…

is loving one…

knowing that person may not return from war.  

This is a gentle reminder to keep your life in perspective.  And when you meet one of our returning soldiers, please remember what they have been through and show them compassion and tolerance.  Thank you.

The primary portion of this was written by Capt. Allison Crane, RN, MS, Mental Health Nurse Observer-Trainer.  Although it is written in the masculine form, it is meant to portray all of our military, both men and women, who serve to protect and defend.

Kindness Tip:  Being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana just got easier!  

If you want to do something very simple for our troops to say thank you, the State of Indiana is working to gather holiday cards,  Hoosier Cheer for our Soldiers.  Last year Indiana sent 1,000 cards overseas and this year Becky Skillman, our Lt. Governor, has a goal to send over 5,000 cards and letters.  I believe Southern Indiana alone has thousands of Extra Milers who would be willing to collect at least 5,000 cards of thanks and well wishes.  

Coordinate a card drive in your child’s school, in your place of worship, or at your place of business…but do so before November 10!

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The Extra Miler - Article #24 - Strive To Be An Extra Miler in 2007 (General)
By Carol A. Dawson

“If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.”
Bob Hope

This is a tribute to all who live or work in Southern Indiana (or Indi-ucky), who go the extra mile for others.  We have so many Extra Milers that I now have a list of wonderful people to introduce in 2007.  Still, the list can never be too long…so keep the referrals coming.  

December is typically a hectic month.  We have come to believe we must perform certain tasks before the holiday is of value.  We rush, buy, wrap, distribute, volunteer, visit, and eat…then eat some more.  I am typical…rushing and barely stopping to celebrate why all of this is being done.  

My business is most busy the last months of the year and all of my family live out of state.  Therefore, December is a flurry of deadlines.  My trips to deliver gifts and visit friends have been little more than gifting drive-bys.   Good thing the shopping network has not come up with a way to shoot presents from your car window without messing up the ribbon and bows.  My husband has often heard me exclaim, as I drive out of sight, “I hate December!”  

This year has been the same fast paced schedule; however, our Extra Milers have provided tips to slide through December and the coming year with more appreciation for the every day joys of life.  My gift to you for 2007 can be found in the lessons learned from our Extra Milers:

    Live your life spiritually – no matter what religion or denomination.  Extra Milers all have a strong faith.  If you don’t have faith in a higher power, begin your search this year.

    When your days are troubled, perform a good deed for someone in need.  These acts of kindness act as natural positive mood enhancers.
    Be modest and pass the credit on to others when being praised.
    Perform acts of kindness without thought or concern regarding how it will be of benefit to you.
    Take an inventory of the goodness in your life - then focus on the good rather than the bad.
    Love your family and friends without reservation.
    Be the person who others come to for help.
    Know when to say “no” to ensure life is balanced, but ensure it doesn’t become the preferred response.
    Don’t be afraid to say or write, “I love you,” to friends and family.

If you have internet access, view this site before 2007 becomes too hectic:  thedashpoemmovie.com  
This beautiful poem was written by Linda Ellis:
Because it would be copyright infringement, "The Dash,"  the peom cannot be published on this site. Linda Ellis owns the legal copyright to the poem. Sorry for the inconvenience.  C~

We will not live forever.  Make every day in 2007 a day that spreads kindness…even if it is simply smiling at a stranger and saying hello…make every day in your "dash" count!

Kindness Tip of the Month:  See above.  Strive to be an Extra Miler in 2007.

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THE EXTRA MILERS     Column #19 - GENORA BIRDSONG'S PASSION
By Carol Dawson









 

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” Lucille Ball

I have heard this quote for years and always believed it to be fact. Busy people are often seen walking or driving to another appointment or meeting making strange facial expressions. If you look really close, you might just be able to see they are practicing forming their mouths to say, “no.” The typical Extra Miler finds this word extremely difficult, and yes even painful. Our focus this month is on an Extra Miler who can’t say no and lives the busy life like no other.

Several years ago, I worked with Genora Birdsong in the Equal Employment Opportunity office of the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center . I recall early in our working relationship having a discussion about upcoming retirements. Genora very boldly advised she had no intention of ever retiring, as long as she could get to work and do a good job each day. As proof that Genora is a person who loves to work and has great passion for her job, she has worked at the Census Bureau for nearly 43 years.

Because of the way Genora savors life in general, she is a strong motivator. While I had witnessed her motivating talent with employees at Census, I knew little of her work with the youth at the First Trinity Baptist church in Jeffersonville . Marie Kendricks, a close friend who attends First Trinity, provided this insight into the woman who stays so busy helping others, “Genora is a beautiful person. She teaches the youth in our church, but more important is that she acts as the best example for them to follow.”

There are people who merely talk the talk when it comes to turning around youth who are misguided. However, Genora Birdsong doesn’t just talk, or even just walk…she leaps into their lives. She insists they take the necessary route to put them on the right path to be good citizens, and if they falter she is there to pick them up and guide them back. Genora believes this happens naturally through her faith in God and the relationships she maintains in church, “My experience and motivation comes from family, community, and church. It comes from Sunday School and it comes from being in a large and loving family.” Genora watched her elders closely as a young child and took their lessons into her heart. She saw them making a positive difference in the lives of people less fortunate and at an early age, determined she would emulate their work.

Our Extra Miler also has great passion for equality, “I believe some of the most important things in life, such as fairness and equality, rest in the veins of loving one another. Without love, all else is nothing more than dust blowing in the wind.” Genora has been the Chair of many committees and organizations, with a mission to teach others about equality and righteousness and has even learned the skill of mediation, in an attempt to foster and encourage patience and fairness.

When asked what she does during down time, Genora is quick to state she believes free time is important, “We should take time to enjoy what God has given us. I like to relax in the company and protection of my husband along a quiet waterfront.” Still, she couldn’t possibly have too much free time, with her involvement in nearly every Census Bureau event and function, serving as her church Sunday School Superintendent as well as being a teacher, singing in the church choir, serving on community boards, and so much more.

Ms. Kendrick was pleased to hear Genora was selected as an Extra Miler. When asked what she thought motivated Genora, she said, “Her faith in the Lord…she is able and willing to help people at all times and responds anytime she is called upon.” Just as our interview concluded, Ms. Kendrick added that Genora is one of the nicest and most beautiful individuals she has known, “She deeply cares about our children and she cares about senior citizens, like me!”

Because Genora lives her life serving others – because Genora is a vibrant and giving person – because Genora works as a mentor to our youth - because Genora lives her life caring about fairness and equality, she is a Southern Indiana Extra Miler. Thank you, Genora Birdsong.

Kindness Tip of the Month: School will soon be back full swing. Pick up a couple of unique children’s books with a message you endorse and make plans now to read to our elementary school children at least once during the next school year. I promise you this will be a very special gift to yourself.











Vanessa and Trish - Extra Milers Prayer Vigil Committee Carol/Judge Jacobi/Vanessa/Trish (after a long day)

The Extra Miler(s)  Blue Star Mothers Going The Extra Mile For Our Troops April 2008  - Column Number 41:
By:  Carol A. Dawson

"Each time a person stands for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, that person sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."  Robert F. Kennedy

In an email from Jerry Jacobi, the above quote was used to describe our two Extra Milers this month.  Jacobi continued, "When I saw Vanessa (Coulter) and Trish (Williams) clutching their candles to shield the tiny flames from the wind, I realized why the Prayer Vigil was important to the community.”  He continued, “By standing for an ideal and working to improve the lot of others, these Blue Star Mothers sent forth a tiny ripple of hope referred to in Robert Kennedy's 1966 speech.”  

Vanessa and Trish are Blue Star Mothers. Vanessa is a two Blue Star Mother and Trish is a three Blue Star Mother.  Each star represents children who currently serve or have honorably served in the military.  Their mission is to promote patriotism throughout the country.

On March 21, Vanessa and Trish certainly succeeded in promoting patriotism by coordinating activities and working 17 straight hours disseminating support information at the Jeffersonville Wall of Honor (320 E. Market), collecting donations, and honoring the men and women who serve in the military. The day culminated in a powerful Prayer Vigil, led by Rev. Bruce Barkhauer, with the intent of encouraging Southern Indiana to support our deployed and returning troops throughout the year, not just during the holidays.   Vanessa, the Southern Indiana Blue Star Mothers President, dreamed of this day for two years – imagining the impact it would have in our community.  

Southern Indiana citizens responded throughout the day by honking, waving, and giving the thumbs-up.  Several men stopped by to talk about previous wars and Don Herrold, Chaplain of VFW Post #1832, stopped by to offer flags – military flags and several U.S. flags to be placed on the Wall of Honor.  Herrold brought the flags and gently tied each pole to the wall with care, stating, “It’s really windy today and I don’t want any of them to touch the ground.”  His respect was obvious.  

Despite medical concerns which should have prohibited Vanessa from standing throughout the day, she stood anyway.  All who walked up to the table were greeted with a smile and a hand shake.  If the person was military (or had a military background), they received a heartfelt thank you from both Vanessa and Trish, sometimes served with a loving bear-hug.  

The activities and Prayer Vigil also impacted the military families. Several pregnant wives visited the Wall site.  One young woman appeared tentative as she walked up with her mother and young son.  She indicated her baby was due in a couple of months and when asked when her husband would be returning, her face became filled with concern as she replied, “My husband will be home when out baby is about 7 months old.”  She had come to the Wall of Honor to feel a connection to the community and a connection to her husband so very far away.  She held her candle and prayed as so many did that windy night – for the safe return of her loved one.  

Vanessa and Trish asked families to leave personal mementos at the Wall of Honor for public viewing. Many of those who came to pray with the community also walked up the small hill to place photos, mementos, and yellow ribbons on the blue stars hanging on the wall.  Later, I started reading some of the sentiments written on the yellow ribbons, but quickly found them to be too emotional – too painful – too personal.  Since the vigil, the Wall of Honor has become a special place for military personnel and their families.  

The Blue Star Mothers were packing up the tables and chairs when they noticed some of the small ribbons blowing off from the strong night wind and quickly gathered them together with a sense of urgency, and reattached each one with a stronger hold.  Our Extra Milers responded to the ribbons as they respond to our troops – with a sense of urgency to honor their sacrifice, by caring for the family and friends they have left behind, and by holding them tight in their hearts.

Vanessa Coulter had a dream that she could ease the pain of family and friends who have been left behind.  Trish Williams and friends helped her to make it happen.  Thank you, Blue Star Mothers, for going above and beyond and for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:   Boxes decorated with Blue Stars can be found in several areas throughout Southern Indiana.  Near each box should be copies of a wish list for items the Blue Star Mothers plan to send to the Indiana troops deployed overseas.  Boxes can be found at Sam’s Club (Veterans Parkway, Clarksville), The Evening News office (221 Spring Street, Jeffersonville) and New Albany Tribune (303 Scribner, New Albany) and Perkfections (359 Spring Street, Jeffersonville).  If your business would like to make collections throughout the year or make donations to the Blue Star Mothers, contact Vanessa Coulter at 502-572-5914 or email inbluestarmom@insightbb.com.

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THE EXTRA MILERS
MEMORY MILES FOR MOE - Column #16 (Hall Family)
By Carol A. Dawson











 

“The best things in life aren’t things.” Art Buchwald

The best things in life aren’t those things we traditionally value, such as bigger and better homes, cars, salaries, etc., but instead, they are the things we carry with us in our hearts and minds. Most will agree that the best things in life are our relationships – those with family, friends, co-workers, and our faith based relationships. Are your priorities focused on the best things in your life? I recently met the Hall family, a group of EXTRA MILERS who undeniably have family as a top priority. Their priorities include the memories of those family members who no longer walk among them. The Hall family members are figuratively and literally EXTRA MILERS for Southern Indiana.

Joyce Browning invited me to meet her family; however, it came with a warning, “You should be prepared, we are a very vocal and active bunch of people.” I assured her my family was much the same and the visit should be just like going home, and it was. There were children running through the house, mothers trying to slow them down, groups in deep conversation, and food everywhere. The Hall family and a few close friends gathered this day to make some plans. They are the only known family team walking in the Floyd County American Cancer Society Relay for Life who walks their thousands of steps in memory of a loved one lost to cancer. Their team is called, “Memory Miles for Moe.” Moe Hall was a son, brother, husband, uncle, and best friend and he was taken away from this family far too early. After just a few minutes sitting with this family it was obvious they walk not only in memory of Moe, but also to save other families from feeling the devastating pain of losing a loved one to cancer.

Moe passed away November 3, 1990 . The family has evolved from the tears of their loss to be able to laugh and proudly discuss Moe’s life. We sat in the home of Moe’s sister, Karen Keeler and began talking about Moe’s life. The stories dictated the mood of the family as we spoke about this gentle and loving man and his life before cancer. Moe’s sister, Joyce Browning said, “Moe was such a gentle person and he never wanted anyone to feel bad.” She added, “When we were young our Dad used to rub our temples to comfort us. When Moe was ill, he was in pain throughout his body; however, I would sit and rub his temple while talking with him. I would imagine even that was painful to him, but he never said a word. I believe he knew it was actually comforting me.” The family was quiet and reflective for a few moments.

The stories then took an upbeat turn as Kevin, Moe’s “baby brother” began talking about Moe as a Cincinnati Red’s fan, and Moe’s best friend, Todd Burrous, spoke about Moe’s love for the University of Kentucky and how he was devastated the day Adolph Rupp died. Moe’s niece, Chelsea Jordan (who completed the circle of life by being born the day Moe passed away) was surprised to hear the family used to be University of Kentucky fans, since she has only known them to be staunch University of Louisville fans. This sparked intense discussion regarding the family history of basketball. Moe’s mother, clearly the family matriarch, is a caring and proud woman. She told of Moe’s friend, Todd, and his dedication to Moe when he was weak from cancer, “Todd came by to see Moe every single day before work and helped him with whatever needed to be done. Moe truly appreciated all anyone did for him. He was a wonderful person” Family members agreed that Moe was the favorite child of seven boys and four girls. The only response from Mother Jackie Hall was an acknowledging smile. In some families that might cause jealousy, but not the Hall family. From the sibling’s standpoint, Moe’s position as the favored child was well deserved.

Moe and his brother David were painters and they were the best of friends. Family members recalled how Moe and David would work together all day and then call each other when they got home to talk about family and work. This is a close knit family, who remembers that Moe was always concerned about others. When he was so critically ill with cancer that he couldn’t get out of the house, he would request family members to go shopping for special occasion gifts for his wife. Mother Jackie Hall said Moe was a very sentimental sort of guy, “There were times it would take him two hours to pick out the right card for his wife, Debbie.”

Last year the Memory Miles for Moe Relay team won the “most spirited” award. They raised $6,239, had large groups walking for the team throughout the day and night, posted photos of Moe all over their team area, and had to be asked to leave the track after storms drove all other teams home. This family doesn’t quit. They loved Moe while he was alive and now cherish his memory. His grave is visited regularly and even the youngest children enjoy making visits with the family. Moe’s youngest brother, Kevin adds, “We sometimes laugh at all the things we leave for Moe at his grave site. One time we left some valuable baseball cards at the site, knowing somebody might take them. We want to let Moe know he is always on our minds.”

As I write this column, the Memory Miles for Moe family photo sits directly in front of me. I can’t help but think that Moe would have been so very proud of his family and friends…he would be pleased to know that these people loved him so much that they have teamed up to work for a cure. A cure for cancer and the pain that it brings to families – a cure for losing someone so young with so much to offer this world. Walking and raising money for the Relay for Life gives this family power. The Memory Miles for Moe team is walking for the second year and finding power in being able to assist the American Cancer Society’s advancement toward a future when cancer no longer takes the lives of friends and family.

The Memory Miles for Moe Team will be hosting a Golf Scramble to raise money for the American Cancer Relay for Life. Moe’s brother, David Hall, and his sister, Karen Keeler are the points of contact for the scramble, which will be held at Wooded View Golf Course on Friday, April 21, 2006 , at 8:30 am (shotgun start). You can contact David at #218-8050 or Karen #944-3155, to make your team reservation. I don’t enjoy playing golf (possibly because I am so very bad at the game); however, my team is already forming to make sure the Memory Miles for Moe team has a successful walk as EXTRA MILERS.

Kindness Tip of the Month: Most of us know someone, either a family member or friend, who has been touched by cancer. Join the fight for a cure by helping with the walk. If you can’t walk, sponsor a person who can. Form a team (your company, school class, friends, church, LSI class, etc.) and have some fun getting to know one another while on the track walking for the American Cancer Society. Become a Southern Indiana EXTRA MILER. The Southern Indiana Relay for Life dates are: Floyd County- May 19 and Clark County – May 12. For more information, contact the American Cancer Society via their web site: www.cancer.org
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The Extra Miler - Column #37 November 2007 - REMEMBERING...OUR TROOPS (A story based on a day in the life...)
By: Carol A. Dawson









Josh had just returned from spending three days in the city of Baghdad.  Those past several days had been the worst of the six months since his deployment to Iraq.  As he headed toward his first shower in four days, he thought about his friends and family back home.

Since last week was his birthday, Josh decided to check the mail tent.  As always, he was told he had no mail.  Josh’s parents and siblings were busy with life back home.  Still, he thought he would get a few cards on his 19th birthday.

Josh started back toward the shower when he heard excited conversation at the back of the mail tent.  He turned back to find a large box had arrived with cards and letters for his unit.  As the word spread throughout the unit, soldiers made their way to the mail center.  Cards from Indiana school children, letters from college students, and cards from Southern Indiana citizens were stacked up on a table.

Since Josh had a nine year old step-brother back home, he decided to pick up a few of the colorful cards written by the children who attend Green Valley Elementary School.  He read, “To A Troop, You are very, very, very brave.  My teacher is not so brave as you.  Thank you.  Love, David” The outside of the card was colored with a rainbow over a soldier and tank.  Josh could imagine his little brother creating just such a card.

He picked up a card from school children at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope and it read, “I am a girl.  Do a lot of girls fight over there? God Bless You.”  He picked up a small white card that read, “I am a person with a disability attending a day program in New Albany.  Thank you for your service.” Josh smiled for the first time in six months.

He looked at the writing on the envelopes that showed respect for his work, “To An American Hero, To an Important Person in the Military, To A Brave Soldier, and To One of Our Nation’s Finest.”  Josh read a card from a mother who wrote, “My son is over there and I know how difficult it has to be for all of you.  Please understand our country appreciates your sacrifice.”

As others began reading the cards, Josh picked up a final card with detailed and colorful Christmas drawings “I can’t believe you did all of that for us.  You are so brave. I sure hope Santa can find you. Merry Christmas. Abbie”  Josh asked if he could take a couple of the cards and was told there was enough for everyone to keep several cards.  He kept Abbie’s card and found the card with the rainbow and took them to his tent.

He forgot about the previous three days, he forgot about his birthday being missed, and he forgot about his shower, as he re-read the two cards, crunched on the peppermint candy canes taped to the cards, and studied every detail of the thoughtful drawings.  He knew why he was in Iraq.

Thank you to the Southern Indiana citizens who created and wrote out the 2,834 cards for the men and women serving our country in Iraq.  These cards and letters will be sent overseas through Lt. Governor Becky Skillman’s Hoosier Cheer for Our Heroes project and will be enjoyed by military personnel like Josh.  Thanks to The Evening News-New Albany Tribune for sponsoring our card drive, and to Sam’s Warehouse, First Christian Church, and Perkfection’s Coffee/Café for collecting the cards.

Thank you to Barbara Reed, who sat and wrote notes in over a hundred cards in honor of her son, Michah Reed.  Michah is in Iraq and the story she told of soldiers who never receive mail inspired this column.   Thank you to Vicki Neely and the Green Valley Elementary School for being the first to respond to our call for cards.  A special thanks to my husband, Ken, who counted most of the cards while taping on over 2,500 candy canes. He always steps up when needed.

To anyone who is serving or has served in the military – we thank you and wish you a Happy and Safe Holiday season.

Kindness Tip of the Month:  If you would like to send cards/letters/packages to our troops, there are groups who will provide assistance.   My brother in the military advised that it is unlikely that any card or letter sent overseas or to any of the military hospitals without a specific name of a soldier, will be received.  If you would like to send packages or letters to soldiers in general, check out these verified web sites:

www.healthytroops.com/SponsorATroop.htm or call (928) 536-9191

www.ustroopcarepackage.com/ or call (509) 521-7508

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THE EXTRA MILERS - Column #13 - KAYLA KINCER'S BIRTHDAY GIVING
Written by: Carol A. Dawson











 

I am sure this has been said before: GROWING OLD IS NOT FOR SISSIES! I turned 50 this past week. There is something distinctly wrong with waking up one day and finding out you have a sciatic nerve that runs down your back, through your butt and into your leg, while simultaneously finding out that you are out of your tube of Clearasil acne medication. Experts tell us our increased health woes are because of increased stress, the environment, the food we eat, the liquids we drink, etc. I don’t know if all of those statements are true, but it seems the doctors now have most of us stressed out about our unhealthy stress levels. This can’t be good. Still, turning 50 wasn’t so bad, as a matter of fact; it was a positive experience. In part because of an Extra Miler named Kayla Kincer.

Kayla doesn’t live in Clark County , but her good deeds have spread to our side of the river. Kayla lives in Elizabethtown , Kentucky and for her 13 th birthday last year she told her mother she didn’t want personal gifts. Hearing this, I immediately recalled my 13th birthday. It was December 1968 BC TV (Before Color TV) and everything in the commercials was on my wish list. Kayla may have wanted some fun items for her birthday, but instead of asking for them, she asked that her friends bring money or checks to be given to a local shelter for women and children. She raised nearly a thousand dollars for abused families.

If a thirteen year old girl can give up all the things she may have considered for her birthday, surely a 50 year old woman who has all she needs could do the same. I gave the Charity Birthday party a whirl and made the theme a 50s Sock Hop. Three charities were named and several hundreds of dollars were raised. Extra Miler friends and relatives were generous and donations are still arriving. Kayla had a good idea and I highly recommend you think about the charity party when the next “big” birthday sneaks into your life.

Oh yes, and Kayla’s mother tells me that she has really been turned on by the success of her charity party and recently held one for the Katrina victims and plans to continue with this theme for her next birthday. Extra Milers often start young.

There are two Clark County Extra Milers I would like to recognize in this column before signing off to celebrate the Christmas holidays. Mayor Rob Waiz has had to make some difficult decisions the past couple of weeks. Being a politician means many decisions you make will perturb someone. Regarding one recent decision, the Mayor weighed out the good and the bad of both sides then made his decision to support clean air for our children. In the heat of the battle, some have been extremely critical of this decision. I would like to say thanks to Mayor Waiz for standing up to the pressure and doing what he thought was best for our city and our citizens. For this, he is an Extra Miler.

Jim Bottorff was someone who lived his life as an Extra Miler and he did it under public scrutiny as an Indiana State Representative. Jim Bottorff passed away this week after losing a hard fought battle against cancer. He was a model Extra Miler, working to bring job opportunities to Indiana, fighting for adequate funding for our children’s education, working to ensure all people (regardless of color, age, economic status, etc.) have easy access to vote, and supporting bills to make it easier to fight crime. He took great pride in caring for the citizens of Clark County and the State of Indiana while being a loving and devoted father, husband, and grandfather. For over 15 years, Representative Bottorff faithfully served the citizens of Indiana in the same manner in which he served his family – with dignity and with love. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing this man are sad to lose him, but happy for the time he was with us and showed how an Extra Miler should react to the privilege of life.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, ... who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

KINDNESS TIP OF THE MONTH (thanks to Extra Miler Kayla): Observe your next birthday or special occasion by setting up a party and arranging to have guests bring a charitable contribution in your name. You will enjoy the company of good friends while simultaneously helping a worthwhile organization accomplish their philanthropic goals. Enjoy the holiday season and have a safe new year.

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The Extra Milers - Column #8
By Carol A. Dawson











 

Celebrating Nicholaus VanArsdale's Youth

“No, nobody is going to cut my hair!” Nicholaus was justly upset when his Mom recently said he needed to have his hair cut. His Mother, Melinda VanArsdale, on the other hand, was elated to make the appointment. You see, Nicholaus has brand new blonde hair on his head and is not fond of any form of further hair loss. This vivacious and handsome blue eyed blonde 6 year old child is currently in remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was diagnosed in January 2004 and has been fighting (and winning) ever since. Nicholaus will be undergoing another two years of chemotherapy (oral) as maintenance, and along with regular doctor visits, the ever-dreaded quarterly spinal tap. He shouldn’t lose his hair again, which is something that makes him very happy. I sat down with Nicholaus and his family at his favorite restaurant in Jeffersonville , Taco Bell, to talk about his medical journey and those who have gone that extra mile to help.

I asked Nicholaus who has been the nicest to him and he was very quick to respond with the names of several young friends, especially Aaron. “He came to see me in the hospital when I was very sick and played with me,” he said in between bites of chicken quesadilla. “I was too sick to go to school or see other friends.” Nicholaus also got a big kick out of his grown up church friend, Rick Lovett, who shaved off his hair to make him feel better. Nicholaus and his older sister, Christal, laughed at the memory and said Rick looked funny without his hair and he made them laugh.


Although Melinda and David VanArsdale named charities, family, doctors, friends, individuals and church members who have helped them throughout Nicholaus’s recovery, they say they fear they can never thank everyone enough. Then there are the people who have done things anonymously…such as the man who came by their yard sale and said he wanted to purchase one of the donated U of L signed soccer balls. He gave them $100 instead of the asking price of $25 and didn’t want to take the soccer ball with him. He said he had a son who was the same age of Nicholaus. Later his daughter came by to also purchase a soccer ball.

I asked nine year old Christal who helped her get through her brother’s illness and she immediately named her teacher, Natalie Worrall, “She talked to me a lot and made sure I didn’t get behind in my schoolwork.” Melinda said a lot of people went out of their way to include Christal in their generosity and prayers, while she and David made sure she had as much one-on-one time as possible. This experience with her brother has impacted Christal significantly. She thought she might lose him and as a result has chosen her career earlier than most little girls – she wants to be a “cancer doctor.” Her father said she has grown significantly in her faith since Nicholaus was diagnosed.

As if dealing with this illness in their family wasn’t enough, the VanArsdale’s have had to struggle financially to keep up with the growing medical bills and cost of living while one parent stopped working to care for their son. They are quick to point out the many acts of kindness they have received in this area also. They had some problems with large payments to the gas company recently and Barbara Anderson stepped in to help them with the utility company to keep their service turned on. “We didn’t even know Barbara. We have been touched by many acts of kindness during the past year and half,” stated Melinda, “but the growing expenses are a constant worry for our family.” A web site has been set up with family journal entries since the diagnosis of Nicholaus’s cancer. You can visit that website at: www2.caringbridge.org/in/nicholausdavid/ - Maybe you can help…there are many ways, starting with the VanArsdale’s request that we all pray for Nicholaus’s continued recovery.

Nicholaus is uniquely appreciative for a child so young. He responds with “thank you” to nearly everything. He told me that he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. That is typical for a 6 year old child, but his thoughts go beyond typical when he tells you that he does know this - he wants to live.

Nicholaus recently announced it is time for his bedroom to be re-decorated. Currently, he is in his original room designed for an infant. His parents are more than glad to make the rounds looking for discounted paint and Buzz Lightyear decorations to celebrate their son’s growth from their baby to a little boy. Yes, celebrate indeed…the VanArsdale’s baby who has grown into a happy and playful little boy.

Kindness Tip of the Month: When someone is in need, don’t simply tell them you are there if they need you. How often do people in need really take you up on a general offer? Ask what you can do and then follow through. Before my father passed away from cancer, I recall my mother noting many offers of help, but few following through. She was most impressed with those who simply brought her dinner or asked which week they could drive my father to his chemo treatments, which were 60 miles from their home. Don’t just say you will pray for someone – drop your head or lift it in prayer often. Go beyond asking – go on and do it - today!

THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 51 - December 6, 2008
By Carol Dawson

Extra Milers for December 2008 - Thank You!

THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 51- December 6, 2008

Our Troops and Veterans
PART I

Southern Indiana, we did it again!  We contributed over two thousand cards to be distributed to the men and women serving in our military overseas (via Lt. Governor Skillman’s Hoosier Cheer for our Heroes campaign).  

Most of the cards were collected from our schools and as I waited for the pickup from the Lt. Governor’s office staff, Molly Fausset and Angela Coats, I began reading several of those cards.  By the time Molly and Angela came to the door, I was holding a handful of brightly decorated cards – smiling and wiping away tears.  

Enjoy these words from of our children’s hearts.  

Merry Christmas to you soldier! Did you already read my sister Lindsey’s letter?  She sent it to you last week.  From Choe

I wish you could come home soon.  Thank you for protected me. I wish you would not get hurt.  When I am hurt, I try not to cry.  Grace

Thank you for serving our country.  You are doing a great job.  Come home to your family soon.  People are missing you in Indiana and America so we are sending letters and cards to help.  Austyn

Thank you for serving our country and being strong.  I hope you stay safe and come home careful.  You are doing an awesome job!  Write me back.   Devon

Thank you for fighting for our country to save our country every day.  Please come back to your family to have a Merry Christmas.  You are very nice to save us and you got a big job and people miss you every day.  Kim A.

Dear Soldier, This is your second card.  We missed you last year and miss you this year even more.  Merry Christmas.  Abby

Abby is right, we continue to miss our family members and friends who are serving in the military overseas.

The United States has been the primary force in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan since March 2003.  I have not been an avid supporter of the war.  Much of my opinion has been based upon limited newspaper knowledge of the invasion details.  However, I do not mince words when I describe my absolute support for the military men and women who offer their lives every day to accomplish the goals of our country.  

My older brother, Army Colonel Allen Baker, recently retired at 54 years old and was put back into regular duty the next day…he then volunteered for a one year tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Allen has much more than newspaper knowledge of this war and I asked him to share his thoughts with Southern Indiana.  Not unlike his younger sis, Allen expresses himself in a rather lengthy manner.  This is an excerpt from Allen’s response to our military mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Part II of the response will be found in the Sunday edition of this newspaper.  

God knows I love wearing this uniform and serving with the courageous men and women of this great Nation.

I have two cards written by students from an unknown school on my wall to remind me how special it is to be from a Nation of people who care not only for their own good but for the greater good of others less fortunate.  These two young people summed up why I continue to wear the uniform of a United States Soldier - "Dear Soldier, may God give you great courage ... thank you for your sacrifice and may God so bless you ... love from Home - Angela" ... and another wrote, "What it means: 1. Pride 2. Strength 3. Love 4. Freedom ... thank you ... let freedom ring ... last command - COME HOME SAFE ... Love, Jennifer W."  Can't help but get a little misty eyed when I think about these enlightened young people.  

My hope is that we will stay the course in Afghanistan - that we will continue to have the courage to see this through to the end.  That someday, when our grandchildren visit Afghanistan as tourist, they might visit a school where the children are told stories about the brave men and women from America who years ago had the wisdom and courage to sacrifice all to give them an opportunity at a better life.  

I thank God every day for my life, my daughters and family, and for being born an American – warts and all.  I had breakfast with a gentleman the other day.  I asked him where he was from and he said he was born in Afghanistan but immigrated to the United States when he was a boy.  What struck me most was what he proudly said next, "I am an American CITIZEN.”  He didn’t say he was an American, he didn’t say he was an Afghan American; he said he was an American citizen.  He said it with all the pride and commitment he has for a country he believes in.

For many years, we have been the envy of the world and I believe we are the last best hope of this world.  We are now called upon to earn such titles.  

This Extra Miler column (and Part II found in the newspaper tomorrow - Sunday edition), is dedicated to Allen, along with my younger brother, Col. Thomas Baker (who continues to make trips to the Iraq and Afghanistan), the Extra Milers who have served and are serving in the military, and the families who faithfully support them.  Be sure to look for Allen’s remaining comments about the conflict in Iraq/Afghanistan tomorrow.   

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Over 186,000 US troops will be serving in Afghanistan and Iraq this holiday season.  If you were not able to get your cards or letters in with the Lt. Governor’s shipment, consider sending your sentiments and support to these sources: (these were links active at the time of this column)

AMillionThanks.org:   Go to:   http://amillionthanks.org/

Military.com:   http://www.military.com/benefits/resources/support-our-troops

Military Exchange Calling Cards:  https://thor.aafes.com/scs/default.aspx

American Red Cross:  http://www.redcross.org/email/saf/

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Southern Indiana - you continue to make me proud.
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PART II

This is Part II to the Extra Miler column posted yesterday.  If you missed Part I, it can be found on the web site at:  http://news-tribune.net  

Col. Allen S. Baker, my brother, is serving in Afghanistan.  In honoring our military as Extra Milers, I recently asked him to provide his opinion of the conflict in Afghanistan and this is part of his response.

It’s so easy to be crass and arrogant in a Nation with our wealth.  It’s easy to say if others want a better life they should take matters into their own hands and just do it ... that it’s not our responsibility to fight for others less fortunate ... that we have enough problems of our own to be worried about the rest of the world.

While there is some truth in those words there is another way to look at our role as a great Nation.  Maybe, just maybe we should all look at our history and realize how lucky we are to be in the position we are in – born as citizens to the prosperous, most free Nation in the world - to understand that we are extremely lucky to have experienced a revolution like no other in history - to understand that our American Revolution succeeded where history tells us most revolutions fail.

Tom Brokaw had it almost right in his book, "America's Greatest Generation.”  I submit that our parent’s generation was the second greatest generation - not the first.  The greatest generation most certainly was our founding fathers.  It was the founding fathers who made our revolution work where all others failed.  

What we never talk about when discussing foreign policy and the cost of helping other countries is just how we came to be the greatest Nation (in history) ever conceived by man.  

B.J. Lossing wrote in 1848, "... an ignorant, untaught mass, like those who have formed the physical elements of other revolutionary movements, without sufficient intellect to guide and control them - could not have conceived, planned and carried into execution, such a mighty movement, one so fraught with tangible marks of political wisdom, as the American Revolution.  And it is a matter of just pride to the American people that not one of that noble band who periled life, fortune and honor in the cause of freedom, ever fell from his high estate into moral degradation or dimmed by word or deed the brightness of that effulgence which halos the Declaration of Independence.”

Bottom line, there is only one reason we enjoy the enriched lives we all have - we were blessed that our founding fathers had it all together.  That, and that alone, is the reason the American Revolution was successful.  I and my children are the lucky recipients of the founding fathers courage and wisdom - risking all for nothing more than an idea of a better world and a better Nation.  Something no Nation has or will ever have – a generation of people who believed in an idea and sacrificed all to see it become reality.  

So, these are our questions:  Should we stay the course and get it right in Afghanistan?  Is it our destiny to make the world a little bit better while also ensuring we continue to nurture our own freedoms and way of life?  Is our commitment in Afghanistan and other similar countries our way to pay back the founding fathers for their willingness to sacrifice everything (to include their most precious possessions – their families) so that future generations might enjoy freedom?  I hope so … I hope we have the same courage our founding fathers had and to (as the young girl put in the card) let freedom ring.  

I would be willing to bet that even the poorest and least fortunate American, given a chance to come here and witness the abject poverty of the Afghan people, would leave feeling better about their lot in life.  The Afghan people do not have the wisdom of our founding fathers; therefore, do we step in and play that part for them?  I would hope it becomes our destiny to be the conduit that helps them produce their own founding fathers.

I hope we stay the course.  I believe it is our destiny to make the world better while also continuing to make our own destiny the shining beacon of hope for the rest of the world to emulate.

For many years, we have been the envy of the world and I believe we are the last best hope of this world.  We are now called upon to earn such titles.   

Thanks to all of the military who have served our country and to those who are serving today.  Merry Christmas and keep your head down.










The Extra Miler  - Article #29 - Gene Thomas - The Cheerful Giver    
By:  Carol A. Dawson

“Footprints in the sands of time are never made by sitting down.”   Immediately after meeting Gene Thomas and his wife, Helen, he pulled a container from his pocket and offered a selection of small pieces of paper to me, “Please take one…and if you don’t like it, feel free to take another.”  He explained that he wanted me to be happy with the quote and hoped it would make me smile.  You just read the quote and it did make me smile.  Gene has been randomly handing out these cards for so many years that he can’t recall when he began.

Gene Thomas is our Southern Indiana Extra Miler this month because of the way he makes people smile and the way he brightens their days.  Several months ago I offered to make kindness cards for anyone who asked and Gene asked.  He indicated that he had been handing out notes to thank people for their kindness for years, but was curious to see how the Extra Miler cards would look.  He liked the cards and we began an on-going conversation about acts of kindness in our community.

During our interview, Gene indicated he would be married to Helen for 58 years on June 2.  Helen proudly added, “It has been easy to be married to this man.  He is a good person who is always offering a helping hand to anyone in need.”  

Gene Thomas gained his love and compassion for people from his mother.  She told him to always do more than what is expected and do it cheerfully.

Gene has a philosophy that accompanies his actions, “If we meet and part and you don’t feel better, then I’ve failed.”  Gene believes it is important for people to care for one another, “When we moved to Charlestown, I noticed that most of the neighbors went to work and came home and rarely spoke to one another.  With our daughter’s dog, I started to work to bring our neighbors together.”  Helen added that most of their neighbors know who Gene is and they know they can count on him to be there for them.

Gene has always been an active volunteer, working with the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, the Public Library, a local medical center, the Arts, the Billy Graham Crusade, the Gideon ministry and more.  He is a man of action and a man of compassion.  When asked how people respond to his cards and encouraging words, Gene replied, “Almost everyone seems genuinely happy to receive a quote or a card thanking them for their kindness.  Some have broken down and cried.  I am a willing listener and available for hugs, when needed.”

Gene moved to Charlestown approximately 10 years ago to live closer to his daughter, Terry Lee Flowe, and her family.  Terry’s pride for her father is obvious, “My father has always had the philosophy that it is better to give than to receive, to be sensitive to people’s needs, and you can’t simply look at a person on the surface to really touch their lives in a positive manner.”

Terry adds that her father is motivated by his sheer love of people and his passion for helping those in need.  You may see Gene out and about in Southern Indiana, and if you get to draw from his container of quotes or are given a kindness card, consider yourself lucky – you were touched by an Extra Miler.  

Gene Thomas has left many footprints in our sand and we thank him for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  Happy Anniversary, Gene and Helen (58 years today).

Kindness Tip of the Month:  “Hunger Awareness Day” is June 5.  Donate canned goods or other dry good food items to your local Food Pantry.  To find a Food Pantry in your area, contact any local church.  By donating a few cans of food, you are helping our community to ensure that no adult or child goes hungry.  Don’t just wait for a special holiday or even a Hunger Awareness Day…people are hungry every day.  A couple places to donate food are listed below:

Center for Lay Ministries
214 E. Maple
Jeffersonville, IN 47130
Phone: 282-0063

Interfaith Community Council
702 E. Market Street
New Albany, IN 47150

Phone: 948-9249

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The Extra Miler   - Column #38 December 2007 - YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO RECOGNIZE AN EXTRA MILER FOR SOUTHERN INDIANA - Rev. Jim Higgins and Troops
By:  Carol A. Dawson









Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s quote is my all-time favorite and it is printed below my email signature as a reminder to never stop pushing agendas that I know are good and right for our world.  My agenda often relates to equality, diversity/inclusiveness, and respect.  Take a moment to think about your agenda for Southern Indiana and beyond.

As 2007 ends, I become reflective of the past year in Southern Indiana and the people who have remained vocal about things that truly matter to the lives of others – in our world – in our community.

Throughout the year, this column focuses on Extra Milers who quietly go about doing good things, without need for recognition or accolades.  However, they are not the only people who go the extra mile to make our world a better place to live and work.  The people who are in the forefront, relentlessly making headlines for change are also Extra Milers.  Their efforts are acknowledged in this year-end column.

Who is your Southern Indiana Extra Miler; the person who risks it all to make positive change in our community? Is it the politician who casts the lone vote for change that will give us a healthier community?  Is it the person who fights for positive change in your workplace by being vocal about unfair treatment or is it the person who directs large non-profit efforts to provide better lives for those less fortunate?  Maybe it is the person who has faced adversity, overcome their hardship, and now works relentlessly to help others who find themselves in the same situation.  If your teacher, doctor, nurse, boss, lawyer, friend, pastor, rabbi, co-worker, neighbor, student, etc., is an Extra Miler, cut out this article and hand it to him/her with a person thank you note for being vocal about what matters in this community.

If you have received a copy of this column, thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler in 2007.  Even when it hasn’t been the easiest journey, you have stayed the course to ensure the job is done and our community is a better place to live and work.  You are being recognized as an Extra Miler who makes a positive difference in our community and in our world.  Thank you for not being silent about things that matter.  We hope to continue reading, hearing, and seeing your good work in 2008.

Happy New Year, Southern Indiana.

Remembering our Military in 2008:  The overwhelming positive response received from the past two columns regarding our troops has encouraged me to continue our efforts to recognize the men and women who are some the greatest Extra Milers of all – our military.

In the months to come, you will be reading about on-going efforts by The Evening News and New Albany Tribune to recognize and remember our troops throughout 2008.  These efforts will be in conjunction with the Blue Star Mother’s Chapter President, Vanessa Coulter and Judge Jerry Jacobi.  We will provide information on how you can provide on-going support for the hundreds of Indiana troops who are either already in Iraq or will be deployed this month.

I recently communicated with Dr. (Col.) Jim Higgins, who is the Senior Pastor for McEachern Memorial UMC in Powder Springs, Georgia.  In 2007, he served as an Army Reserve Chaplain, stationed in Balad, Iraq at LSA Anaconda.  His blog, found at www.letters-from-the-desert.blogspot.com details his remarkable journey as a minister and soldier.  One of his stories caught my attention and I share it with you in an effort to keep our soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.  Dr. Higgins gladly authorized this reprint (original blog written in May 2007).
From a Chaplain in Iraq:   I recently attended a showing of "Spiderman 3," here at LSA Anaconda. We have a large auditorium we use for movies, as well as memorial services and other large gatherings. As is the custom back in the States, we stood and snapped to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature.

All was going as planned until about three-quarters of the way through The National Anthem the music stopped. Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments; and everyone would sit down and call for a movie. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.

Here, the 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward. The music started again. The Soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. And again, at the same point, the music stopped.

What would you expect to happen? Even here I would imagine laughter, as everyone finally sat down and expected the movie to start.

But here, you could have heard a pin drop. Every Soldier continued to stand at attention. Suddenly there was a lone voice, then a dozen, and quickly the room was filled with the voices of a thousand soldiers, finishing where the recording left off:

"And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that Star - Spangled Banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"
~ ~
It was the most inspiring moment I have had here in Iraq. I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you here.

Remember them as they fight for you! Pass this along as a reminder to others to be ever in prayer for all our soldiers serving us here at home and abroad.. For many have already paid the ultimate price...

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Kevin Hall places the Extra Miler pin on his wife, Becky Hall, during a Charity Motocycle Run for the Eric Hall Memorial Fund.

The Extra Milers - Column #47- September 6, 2008
By Carol A. Dawson

I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death.
They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make.
Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.
We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.
Leo Buscaglia

Becky Hall and her family are working for positive change for our veterans as they learn to live through their grief over the loss of their son, Eric Hall.  Most of Southern Indiana is aware of the Hall’s story of war, illness, pain, and death.  Becky, her husband, Kevin, and their family and friends are working feverishly to create something positive from their broken hearts.

Becky Hall is a healer.  Working as a pediatric physical therapist, she understands the importance of believing children when they say they are hurting.  Even when nobody else believes their pain, she believes the parent should.  Becky remembers Eric telling her, “Mom, I am a broken man.”  She believed him when he discussed his frustrations, fears, and dreadful recurring mental images of war, but felt ill equipped to truly help Eric find peace.  

Eric found peace the only way he knew how and now Becky and Kevin are determined to find acceptable answers to the question on so many returning soldier’s minds:  How do I cope?
 

“We can’t change what happened to Eric; however, we hope to help other families and we are dedicated to that end.” Becky said.  She quickly added, “Our returning troops, especially those with hidden injuries – mental injuries – feel as if nobody can possibly understand and that has to change.”
 

Our veterans need to know they are not unaccompanied in their healing journey and Becky is just the fighter to make it happen.   Her goal is to give our returning troops a connection – a lifeline.  She stresses the need for immediate attention.  Even a week (or months, as it is now) waiting for treatment is unacceptable and often times too late.

Becky has established the non-profit Eric Hall Memorial Fund. Her vision for this Memorial Fund has no bounds.  She believes large amounts of money can be raised through fund raisers and grants, with the money being used to make life less complicated for our veterans who are sacrificing their lives for our country.

Becky explained, “This fund will help our veterans – that I am sure.”  The Memorial is still in the planning stage although donations are already coming in from various fund raisers.  Becky envisions a research facility to study Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the mental illness suffered by Eric and so many of our war veterans.  With conviction, Becky stated, “It is my dream that this facility would be staffed entirely by veterans, because they understand PTSD.”

Becky also wants to see action to ensure immediate financial assistance is provided to veterans returning from war – funds for college – medical assistance – family expenses – job skills training, etc.  

Charlie Shaughnessy, a decorated Viet Nam war veteran, found Eric’s body in Florida.  He has become a friend to the Hall family and assists with the Memorial fund raising efforts.  Charlie expressed high praise and admiration for Becky, “She is dedicated to helping our veterans and she is strong of conviction.”

“Morally, Becky has been overwhelmed, as anyone would be in the same circumstances; however, she doesn’t want this to happen to any other brave young man or woman so she is selflessly giving herself to this cause,” Charlie added.  

Charlie knows first hand the importance of Becky’s work.  With a deepening in his voice, he talked about his own struggle with PTSD.  Charlie then added, “Becky Hall wants to make sure this Memorial Fund accomplishes something great.  She is a leader – making Eric’s life one of a poster child to unite mothers of veterans across the country.”  

Veterans and their families (both within our community and beyond) are already reaching out to Becky for guidance. “They know I understand and sometimes that is enough,” she explained.   She clarified her statement, “It means a lot just to be able to connect with another person who has first hand knowledge of what PTSD can do to a person, but mostly I just listen.”  

Through tireless efforts to create something positive from an enormous loss, Becky and Kevin Hall, along with Charlie Shaughnessy, have become heroes to our veterans and their families.  Thank you, Becky, Kevin, and Charlie, for making our world a better place and for being Extra Milers.

BECKY’S KINDNESS TIP OF THE MONTH:

If you know a war veteran who is showing signs of mental stress, tell their family and encourage them to get help, but don’t act as though it doesn’t exist.    She also wants you to know this fact about veterans with PTSD, “These are sick people trying to be well, not bad people trying to be good.”  If our troops know we care, it will go a long way in helping them get well.  If you wish to make a donation to the Eric Hall Memorial Fund, contact the Charlotte Community Foundation at (941) 637-0077 or mail a check to:  Charlotte Community Foundation, 1675 W. Marion Avenue, Ste. 111, Punta Gorda, FL  33950 (include:  For Eric Hall Memorial Fund).

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Columns are dated and numbered -

most recent archived column found at the top~

The Extra Miler - Doug Drake- Article 22
By Carol A. Dawson








 



“If I have learnt anything, it is that life forms no logical patterns.  It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return?”  Margot Fonteyn

Several months ago we featured Zak Leffler as an Extra Miler.  As is often the case, the person nominating Zak was also an Extra Miler. I would like to introduce you to Doug Drake, a classic Southern Indiana Extra Miler.

We often think of our lives as extremes - good or bad, happy or sad, blessed or living insufficiently. Doug Drake is a man who doesn’t believe our lives have to be sharply outlined.  It is obvious to anyone who meets Doug that he finds a way to weave bad into something positive.  He knows life is not a series of logical patterns; instead throwing us a curve ball just when we think we have the angle figured out.

In 1990 Doug lost his mother to breast cancer.  He learned lessons from this tragic loss that would serve him well the rest of his life.  He and his father were lost when his mother was diagnosed and because they didn’t know what to do; they immersed themselves in their jobs and were not truly part of her team.   There was no guidance or support for men who were supporting women with breast cancer.  Not knowing what to do, they remained detached from her journey.  Nine years later Doug would once again hear the dreadful words “breast cancer,” when his beloved wife, Janet was diagnosed.  He remembers the exact date and his immediate response.  Being passive wasn’t an option.  Doug knew knowledge equals power and power meant a better chance for a cure.  Losing Janet simply wasn’t an option.

Doug became a man on a mission as he researched drugs, accompanied his wife on all trips to the Oncologist, learned the daunting medical terms, and supported Janet with educated decisions on her treatment program.  Janet joined a women’s breast cancer support group and asked Doug to attend.  He wasn’t sure of his welcome, given the sensitive nature of their topic; however, the women encouraged his visits.  Janet’s nurse talked to Doug about starting a support group for men.  He was starting graduate school and working over 60 hours a week in his job…where would he find the time?  Allen Schuler and John Loi, both with wives dealing with breast cancer, joined Doug and the Partners In Breast Cancer Survival was born.

About 26 members in the group meet the 4th Tuesday of each month in New Albany (6:30 – 8:00 PM).  Charlie Meyer is new to the Support Group.  He found them through a brochure and decided it might help him deal with the shock of his wife’s diagnosis, “We were really blind-sighted when Lynda was told she had breast cancer.  She did everything right and this still happened…we were both hurt deeply.”  Lynda had annual mammograms and was due for her next checkup in 2 months when she found the lump.  Charlie immediately saw the benefit of the Support Group, “Doug is the cornerstone for this important organization.  He makes all of our lives easier and because of his efforts, I am not alone.”  Charlie’s wife, Lynda is in the middle of chemotherapy and has high hopes that her disease will continue into remission after her treatments.

Lynda is in total awe of her husband and the support group men.  “Most of the information you hear about this disease is fear based and incorrect,” Lynda stated.  “Doug’s support group helps dispel the paralyzing myths which is a huge public service.”  Lynda is also very proud of her husband, “At one low moment, I looked up at him and remarked that I didn’t know how I could ever repay him for all he has been to me during my illness.”  Charlie just smiled and said, “Babe, you’ve been prepaid for years.”

In May 2006, Janet and Doug Drake celebrated 7 years of remission.  When she was asked to describe her husband in one word, she didn’t hesitate with her response, “HEART.”  “Doug wanted to be my partner in this battle.  He never doubted the importance of his role in my recovery.  He has a loving heart.”

Doug is the annual Chairperson for the Floyd County Relay for Life.  He wants a cure for cancer and is willing to do whatever it takes to see it happen.  He points out, “It’s all about giving and sharing to make another person’s life better.”  Doug Drake’s work saves lives – the lives of our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends – and because of this, he is truly an Extra Miler.  Thank you, Doug!

Kindness Tip of the Month (from our Extra Miler):  The American Cancer Society estimates 8,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the Southern Indiana/Louisville area in the next year and this isn’t the most frightening statistic.  They predict 1,500 will not survive.  Early detection and a commitment to therapy give the best chance for survival.   Extra Miler Drake advises, “Do not despair.  There is hope.  Women with breast cancer need to focus on themselves and their health by keeping a positive attitude and accepting incoming love and support.”  If you know someone who is going through breast cancer treatment or is in remission, pass along this column and let them know there are people who care about their journey and want to lend support and encouragement.  The men’s support group can be found on the internet at:  www.partnersinsurvival.com.


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March 2008
Extra Miler - Column 40 - March 2008:   Herb Fenwick Is A Great Neighbor and Friend
By Carol Dawson












“The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best parts of a person's life.”  William Wadsworth

Come along with me.  I would like to introduce you to the proverbial man who gives the shirt off his back.  His name is Herb Fenwick and he resides in New Albany.  George Mouser, Herb’s friend, initially contacted me about a previous Extra Miler column.  I had suggested cutting out the column and presenting it personally to an Extra Miler.  George sent an email to say that he would have presented the column to Herb Fenwick, except Herb probably wouldn’t accept it.  

George went on to explain, “Herb wouldn’t think he deserves the recognition as a person who goes the extra mile.  He is the kind of man who doesn’t want or expect publicity or even a thank you for all he does for the people in this community.”

Herb doesn’t wait to be asked for assistance; he simply jumps into action when he observes a need.  When he has completed his task, Herb doesn’t wait around for recognition or words of appreciation either.  Accolades are simply not part of the equation.  This was so much the truth that we kept this column a surprise until Herb received his Extra Miler pin.

Herb raised four children on his farm and has always had time to help neighbors and his community.  He works diligently with his neighbors to protect the beauty of rural Floyd County.

Herb’s daughter, Cindy Hundley, was thrilled about her father being recognized for his good deeds, “My father is the kind of guy that gets up in the early morning hours after a snowfall to shovel and clean his neighbor’s driveways before they get up.”  His only calling card is his reputation for doing such things in the neighborhood.  Cindy recalls how a friend once described her father, “Lisa described my dad as being like Jesus with skin…always looking to care for others.”

At seventy-two years of age, Herb keeps a schedule that would put much younger men and women to shame.  He does odd jobs around homes in his neighborhood to help those who cannot do the work themselves or who do not have the expertise.  Cindy states, “My Dad has a servant’s heart; he probably volunteers to help six or seven different families regularly each week with a variety of jobs.”

Herb’s long time friend, Norb Kruer, told how Herb was truly an Extra Miler, “He doesn’t accept status; he is only interested in doing the right thing for our families and our community. When Herb views a problem, he deals with it in a non-confrontational manner.”

Another friend, Joanna Danzl describes Herb as someone who is always willing to help out a neighbor.  Joanna said, “Herb isn’t a young man by age; however, he definitely works like one…he will help a neighbor roof a barn, cut firewood, or fix their broken appliances.”

There doesn’t seem to be anything Herb will not do to help his neighbors and family members.  Joanna sums up our interview, “Herb Fenwick is a kind-hearted, gentle, and unselfish person who just amazes me.”

Herb lives his life with respect – respect for the people in our community and respect for the land that he loves.  His friends describe him as a motivated individual who goes into each day with an optimistic attitude, a good sense of humor, and a desire to help those in need.

George Mouser concluded our interview, “Herb is a strong but quiet man who is neither flamboyant nor egotistical.  Simply put, Herb Fenwick is a good neighbor and friend to all who know him and I’m happy to let him know this is how we feel.”  Herb, your neighbors, your family, and our community sincerely thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:   Businesses can go the extra mile:   I have a 1947 photo of my father when he was just 17 years old; standing in an official group photo with his Navy unit in San Diego, California.  It has been hanging in my home for many years.  The photo fell from the wall recently and the glass broke to pieces.  Gently picking it up, glass and all, I took it to “Frame It Fast,” where a young man named Chris Nicheols took one look at it and said he could have it repaired by the next day. Without being asked, he quickly added, “No charge.”  My genius response was, “Are you sure?”  He nodded his head and said, “We are happy to do this for you.”  This gesture perked up a soggy cold winter day for this columnist.  If you have a business in Southern Indiana, consider offering acts of kindness whenever you can.  The goodwill will far exceed the benefit of keeping a client or customer content.
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Extra Miler Malliccaaii Green and Principal Steve Morris, Jeffersonville High School

The Extra Miler - Malliccaaii Green Shows the Value of RESPECT - Column #57 - May 2, 2009

By Carol A. Dawson

Respect is the foundation of peace within our community and our world.  Nothing guides our morals and actions more.  Respect for our faith, for our elders, for fellow citizens, and respect for our parents (just to name a few) reveals much about a person’s character.

Within a few minutes of meeting Malliccaaii Green, it was obvious his life is focused on respectful behavior.  We honor Malliccaaii Green as our Southern Indiana Extra Miler this month.    

Malliccaaii is the kind of young man any parent would be proud to have as a son.  This fact is derived from the respect he has for his single parent mother, Ramada Green.  When asked about his motivation to be an Extra Miler in life, Malliccaaii didn’t hesitate to respond, “It is important to me to make my mother happy.”  He sincerely adds, “My mother is my inspiration – she is an exceptionally special person who means everything to me.”

When interviewed, Ms. Green was quick to turn the focus back to her son’s own self determination and desire to influence others in a positive manner.  A single parent raising two children, Ms. Green wanted to be sure her children realized there were consequences to everything in life.  She wanted them to understand their roots and how to be considerate of others.  Ms. Green explains, “I tell my children that life isn’t easy, but making good choices can give them a brighter future.”

Malliccaaii is a busy Jeffersonville High School Junior who maintains a 3.3 GPA.  He is actively involved as Staff in ROTC and received the 2009 National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Bronze Medal.  He works part time with children at the YMCA and also donates his time as a volunteer at the Louisville Science Center.

Malliccaaii is active in the Jeffersonville High School Art Club and has won the county Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. poster contest three years in a row.   In addition to other awards, Malliccaaii recently won the prestigious Golden Key National Scholastic Art Award and a scholarship to attend the University of Louisville Visual Arts class.    

Ms. Dawn Struck, Jeffersonville High School’s Art Teacher and Art Club Sponsor, explains that Malliccaaii is the kind of person to answer the call for help, no matter what that call entails.  She clarifies, “Malliccaaii is always willing to step up to give of his time and talents and he always does so with enthusiasm.”

Ms. Struck walked to the back of the room and carefully picked up a large painting.  As she brought the painting to the table she said, “This young man is extremely talented – he is a classic Renaissance man.”  With that, she gently pulled back the cover to reveal Malliccaaii’s brilliantly detailed, complex, and powerful work of art.   As I momentarily became lost in the beauty of the painting, Ms. Struck’s obvious pride in her student was revealed as she said, “You could not have selected a better person than Malliccaaii Green as an Extra Miler.”

Malliccaaii recently received the Greater Clark County Schools Merit Award and is held in the highest regard by Jeffersonville High School’s principal, Steve Morris.  Mr. Morris stated, “Malliccaaii puts service above self - he is a classic servant leader – exemplifying what we want to see in all of our students.”

In addition to his many activities, Malliccaaii also serves as a big brother for the Big Brothers Big Sisters charitable organization.  His little brother is a12-year old named Marques. When asked what sparks of wisdom he would like to pass on to his little brother, Malliccaaii responded, “Marques is very smart – I want him to be a good person who makes good choices in life.”  He adds, “I want Marques to understand that he can be a responsible person and still have fun.”

Ramada Green didn’t set out to raise an over-achiever.  Her intent was simply to raise Malliccaaii to be a respectful and caring young man.  Malliccaaii Green’s life illustrates how blending love and respect will naturally lead to success.

Thank you, Malliccaaii, for being an outstanding citizen and an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.    

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Malliccaaii encourages youth to always set their sights on being above average – believing everyone has the potential to become successful.  He cautions that children need to learn leadership skills at an early age, setting their own destiny instead of becoming followers.

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The Extra Miler  - Column #31 - Yvonne Grundy Lives Her Life Giving Back       By:  Carol A. Dawson










Kahil Gibran was quoted to have said, “It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  However, our Southern Indiana Extra Miler for August, Yvonne Grundy provides a twist to those words, “It is when you give of yourself that you truly start to live.”

Yvonne Grundy, a retired New Albany elementary school teacher, has a list of volunteer activities so long that this column cannot list all of them individually.  She is extremely active with her church, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  She serves as the church organist, Finance Committee Secretary, and Missionary Society member (just to name a few).

Her talent as a musician also puts her at the head of many volunteer lists, as she accompanies several senior citizen singing groups and church choirs.  Her philanthropic ventures continue, as she serves on multiple boards, including the Division Street School, Art Council, Bridgepoint Goodwill, and Community Action.  Yvonne also volunteers with the Carnegie Center for Art and History, Retired Senior Volunteer Persons (RSVP), Scribner House (Docent), Church Women United, Altrusa, International, and many more. This is an industrious woman!

Yvonne is the woman who can’t say “no.”  It is difficult to imagine she has any time to herself.  Yvonne doesn’t place emphasis on alone time, “My mother encouraged me to do for others at an early age and I can’t imagine focusing on myself.”  She adds, “Doing volunteer work takes the focus off yourself and when you focus on helping others you are giving yourself a very special gift.  The feeling it gives is difficult to describe.”

Yvonne’s volunteer activities started through her church and have grown to become, in great part, who she is.  Her minister, Rev. Dennis Laffoon, was overjoyed to contribute to Yvonne’s recognition stating, “She incorporates the multiplicity of what it means to be culturally significant.  By this I mean she is a great and positive influence to everyone in our community.”

Yvonne believes everyone is given a special gift and it is vital to share that gift to inspire others, “When I taught elementary school children I challenged each of them to find their gift and to use it for the common good.”

Sally Newkirk, Director of the Carnegie Center for Art and History, had two children taught by Yvonne.  She stated, “The parents and children always fell in love with Yvonne.  She had a special connection to each child in her class.  In Yvonne’s class, the children knew they were special.”  Sally added, “Yvonne has also worked with the Carnegie Center as a Board member and on special projects and she is always willing to work in the trenches…and she does so with the best attitude.”

Rev. Laffoon summed up his thoughts on our Extra Miler, “Yvonne Grundy creates relationships and this is what makes her a great leader.  People definitely respond to her in a positive manner.”  Yvonne appears to be many things to many people; however, Rev. Laffoon expressed it best by referring to her as, “a nurturer…a legacy of positive leadership in the New Albany community.”

Thank you, Yvonne Grundy, for instructing and loving our children for thirty-four years and for continuing to show your love for our community and the people who reside in Southern Indiana.  You are indeed the epitome of an Extra Miler.

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Since Yvonne encourages everyone to be positive role models to our youth; consider volunteering at your local school.  Be sure to call the school administrative office in advance and ask where your talents are needed.  If you want to experience a special “gift of giving,” ask to read a book to an elementary class.  If you are short on time, you can read several books within 30 minutes.  

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The Extra Milers  - Column #9 - Jay Crutcher and Angie Maxwell
By Carol A. Dawson














Jay Crutcher and Victoria Haire (Ambassador for MDA)

The greater part of our happiness depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” Martha Washington

Jazzercise owner, Angie Maxwell, called me up after class a few weeks ago. Fearing my shimmy and shake might be getting out of hand, I was relieved to hear that she wanted to recommend a focus person for the extra miler column. Angie then turned to a young man sitting a few feet away, “Jay, could you roll over here for a minute?” Jay Crutchers, waiting for his personal trainer session, promptly came over to be introduced. It took less than a minute to know Jay was an extra miler. At the conclusion of that conversation, Jay told me he was always glad to make a new friend. Within those brief moments, I knew his words were sincere.

When you first meet Jay, you can’t miss the fact that he uses a wheelchair to get around. However, when you see his quick smile, gentle eyes, and hear him speak about the need for people to really care about one another, the chair simply disappears. As Jay puts it, “Walking is really over-rated.”

Jay turns 40 years old this year, but has no intention of throwing a pity party to grieve this milestone year. You see, Jay only celebrates life. Living life to the fullest is Jay’s way of dealing with daily highs and lows. This eternal optimist keeps a cheerful disposition despite the fact that he has osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), commonly known as brittle bone disorder. This disorder is characterized by bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent cause. A person with OI may break a rib while coughing or an arm by rolling over in their sleep. Jay is rarely without pain and has had more than 200 broken bones. When he was 6 years old he began using a wheelchair. He has never regretted any part of his life and has devoted himself to helping others who are ill or depressed with what life has handed to them. This is where Angie comes back into the picture. Jay watched her on the Jazzercise television show and thought there was something very special about Angie, “I listened and heard compassion and goodness in her words and voice. I wanted to meet this special person and felt she might be able to help me strengthen my muscles and also my mind.” Angie and Jay formed a friendship and continue to learn from one another. Angie has witnessed Jay’s caring heart and acts of kindness on several occasions. “Jay has this rare bone disorder and yet he feels blessed,” Angie stated. “He feels his condition has made him a stronger, humble and more caring person and he is probably right.” Soon after meeting Angie, Jay listened as she discussed family friends who have a young daughter living with Muscular Sclerosis. Jay went home that day and immediately sent in a donation to the MS Society to continue research into this disease. Angie indicates he donates all he can to medical research and charities, with the hope of easing the pain of others.

After several conversations and emails, I was a recipient of Jay’s concern for others. Upon hearing that my mother, who lives out of state, had been diagnosed with a compound fracture of the spine, Jay offered assistance and advice. His advice was, “Your mom will feel isolated and lonely since she will be in constant pain and not able to move and get around easily. You need to be there for her emotionally.” Based upon his recommendation, I began really listening to my mother and Jay was right on target. Then Jay did what he does best. He offered to help in any way he could – including an offer to speak with my mother to help her get through this difficult time. Jay’s empathy for the pain of others is stronger than most. He seems to survive best when he is helping others.

I asked Jay how it makes him feel when he goes that extra mile for another person. Jay responded, “I feel great. I feel very protective and compassionate about people who are in pain. I just want others to be happy and feel good. We were put on this planet to care for one another and that is what I try to do.”

Jay sent this Dalai Lama quote to express how he feels about life, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” There is something evident in every person I’ve interviewed for The Extra Miler column…they do not see themselves as particularly special or unique and they typically try to pawn off the praise to others, as Jay did to Angie. While Jay Crutcher’s bones may be easily broken, his spirit is indestructible. He is our Clark County extra miler.

Kindness Tip of the Month: I believe kindness lives in everyone and the earlier we tap into that part of our lives, the better. Let’s start with our youngest extra milers – our children. Give your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews a small amount of money – a dollar will do – and ask them to use it to do something nice for another person…encourage creativity. Ask them to tell you how the act of kindness made them feel. Encourage our children to be extra milers by being the best example of one. What would Jay say? JUST GET OUT THERE AND DO IT!

Extra Miler Update : Last month I introduced you to 6 year old Nicholaus VanArsdale and his extra miler friends. He now has some new friends. After the column was read by Liz Wilson, owner of Liz at Home, she offered to help decorate Nicholas’s “big boy” room. Although delighted by the generous offer, the family had already completed the room when the column ran. When Taco Bell’s 10 th Street manager, Paul Stachowicz, read that Nicholas’s favorite restaurant is Taco Bell, he called to give Nicholaus a free quesadilla every week for the rest of his life! I am already picturing Nicholaus, as a teenager, running into the store with his friends to get his free quesadilla. Thanks to these businesses that are going the extra mile.
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THE EXTRA MILERS - Column #17 - ZAK LEFFLER GOING THE EXTRA MILE
By Carol A. Dawson













“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” Winston Churchill

Being an Army Brat (an endearing term) meant I didn’t grow up with extended family nearby. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were the wonderful people we visited during summer vacation and Christmas holidays. Two brothers and parents were my only day-to-day family. Although my brothers and I had more than our share of spats, we could always count on one another for support. Still do, even though we are now living in three different states. Life doesn’t stop when your extended family is spread out in different states; however, it can get pretty lonely. Extra Miler Zak Leffler is a 22 year old who believes that much of his joy in life comes from the togetherness of his large extended family. He is blessed with both a geographically and emotionally close family and he doesn’t take this fact for granted. This is his story of family.

Doug Drake, the Chairperson for the 2006 Floyd County American Cancer Society Relay for Life recently told me of the amazing people who spent the night walking for a cancer cure, the dedicated volunteers, the sponsors and contributors, and the Highland Hills Middle School Principal, Gary Hutton (who allowed the Relay to be transferred to their school track on short notice). He then began telling a story of a young man that I immediately recognized to be an Extra Miler.

Drake was intrigued by this young man who appeared to be walking the track throughout the entire Relay event. Since the Relay began at 3:00 pm (May 19) and ended at 9:00 am (May 20), Drake thought he must be mistaken. After all, the event lasted 18 hours. He caught up with the dedicated walker, Zak Leffler, during the final hours of the Relay, and spoke to him just long enough to confirm he had been walking all night. Drake commented, “It was clear that Zak was exhausted and in great pain from walking all night. He is an inspiration for all of us. To have a young person so dedicated to understanding what Relay is all about and to understand the effect cancer has not only on the patient, but family, friends, and the community is unique and deserves recognition.”

Drake explained that Zak’s efforts during the walk reminded him greatly of the ordeal cancer patients endure while undergoing chemotherapy, explaining that Zak sacrificed rest and comfort for a significant period of time. The similarities between the toll of chemotherapy and Zak’s physical response to 18 hours of non-stop walking seemed clear to Drake, “This young man put his body through conditions similar to what a cancer patient might endure: pain, lack of sleep, and physical exhaustion.”

Zak Leffler walked with his family, the Memory Miles for Moe team (featured as Extra Milers last month). It came as no surprise to me that a member of this family would beam brightly as an individual Extra Miler at the Relay event. Zak responded in a very matter of fact tone when asked why he walked all night, “I wanted to do this last year, but the event was called off after just over 3 hours, so this was going to be my year to walk throughout the event.” The walk first started out as a bet with Zak’s sister, Shea. He put out a challenge that he could walk longer in the Relay; however, that night it became evident that the walk was about much more than the challenge – it was about family. Shea Leffler is extremely proud of her brother, “I wanted to walk 80 laps and Zak was going to walk 120, but my knee gave out and I had to stop at 70. I woke after sleeping for awhile and was surprised to see Zak still walking. Everyone was encouraging him to keep going.” When asked what motivated the brother/sister team to push through pain and keep walking, Shea responded, “We both kept thinking of the pain cancer patients endure day after day…the kind of pain our Uncle Moe must have felt. We knew their pain is much greater than anything we could experience in the Relay.”

Zak, a senior at IUS, added that he walked all night for family togetherness and to help in the effort to find a cure for cancer. It seems cancer can take either extreme, either pulling a family together or tearing them apart. There was at least one family member walking and talking with Zak for each and every 124 laps (31 miles). The Leffler siblings and the Memory Miles for Moe team raised approximately $10,000 to beat cancer.

Prior to the Relay, Zak had never walked or run more than 2-3 miles at one time, “I didn’t know if I could do it. The pain was a lot worse than I thought it would be, but my family kept me motivated and gave me the power to keep going.” Zak worried his body would let him down and his knees would give out, but his heart had something else in mind. Zak Leffler was focused on a clear goal and the joy of being together with family.

Zak was one of thousands of walkers across the United States who have walked or will soon walk to beat a disease that has taken far too many of our loved ones from us far too early in their lives. A loving family is indeed a great virtue and our Extra Miler Zak Leffler is well aware of that power.

Kindness Tip of the Month: We just missed Mother’s Day, but will be just in time for Father’s Day, June 18. Help your children create Father’s Day cards and take them to the local nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. This would make a simple project for neighborhood friends or any group of children. All you need is construction paper and crayons. There are over 25 facilities for the sick or elderly in Southern Indiana. For a facility near you, consult the phone book or contact the Chamber of Commerce at 945-0266.

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The Extra Miler - PART I - KINDNESS WEEK IN SOUTHERN INDIANA - Column #56 - dated April 4, 2009
By Carol A. Dawson

This is a two-part column, with the second segment to be published Sunday.  We have thousands of Southern Indiana Extra Milers who are performing acts of kindness every day. Last month, Southern Indiana joined the nation in celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week and I asked our readers to let us know of acts of kindness that have been performed for them.  The two columns are a compilation of the submissions.  All submissions can be found on the web site:  www.theExtramilers.com.  Do you recognize any of our Extra Milers for April?   

    Mr. John Blunk of Clarksville wrote about the loss of his beloved dog, Nicki. As any good pet owner knows, one of the most difficult things we can do is make the life or death decision when our pet is in pain beyond healing. Mr. Blunk recently had to deal with this pain as he lost his companion and best friend of 12 years.  He found comfort during the painful process through the kindness of Veterinarian, Dr. H.R. Gough, D.V.M. and staff. They were respectful of Mr. Blunk's feelings and emotions. Mr. Blunk then discovered the pet services offered through Scott's Funeral Home, where he was also treated with respect and compassion, as he said goodbye to his devoted friend. To Dr. Gough (and his staff) and Scott's Funeral Home - thank you for going the Extra Mile.

    Etta Devine, called to tell us about her wonderful neighbors, Jean and Bill Wheeler.  Etta is 84 years old, recovering from 4 strokes, and has little mobility.  She explains, "Bill and Jean are two of the most wonderful people in the world...they are good to everyone they know, not just me."  Etta went on to explain that they have taken her to the hospital (remaining with her), performed chores for her around the house, and they even bring her dinner each evening.  They have been neighbors for over 20 years and Etta doesn't know what she would do without them, "Both Bill and Jean have their own physical issues to deal with, but that doesn't stop them from doing for everyone else."  Bill and Jean see things that need to be done and they step up and do them.  She said they are also very active in their church in New Albany. Etta, thank you for introducing us to Jean and Bill Wheeler, Southern Indiana Extra Milers.

    Kelly Bayens reported an act of kindness that was bestowed upon her family at the Tumbleweed on Charlestown Road in New Albany.  My husband and I took our 2 daughters (5yrs & 2yrs) out to eat on a Friday night. They were extremely busy. We only waited about 15-20 minutes for our table; however once we were seated it took about 10 minutes for our server to come take our drink orders and about the same to take our food order. We were there for around an hour and a half. The entire time our daughters were very well behaved as they sat in their chairs and colored.  We never heard much from them.  There was a couple sitting in the booth next to our table (I didn't get their names) who made it a point to come over to our table when they were leaving to tell our girls how well behaved they are, especially given the length of time they had to wait.  As the woman proceeded to tell them this she gave each of them $10 and told them to go buy a little gift! I was completely shocked that someone would come over and pass along kind comments and then also provides gifts to the girls.  You can imagine how proud I was of them, but even more amazed at how generous it was of a complete stranger to come over and say something to us.  It didn't stop there! A few moments later the manager walked up to check on us to see if we needed anything and my husband told her no thanks we would just like to get our bill. The manager then told us that there was a surprise for the night.  The wonderful couple that not only gave our girls a little gift had also taken care of our dinner bill!  I think about those wonderful people quite often and pray that God will bless them as they did us. Nobody made them pay for our dinner; they just did it out of the kindness of their hearts. I only wish I could have told them thank you, it is something that I will remember forever.    To the couple who bestowed this Random Act of Kindness, thank you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers - you will never know the impact you made on this family, especially the young girls.

    Alice and Jerry Miles notified us about their neighbors, Cheryl and Bob Klueppelberg and their son, Eric.  Their good deeds as neighbors go back to the storm Ike.  After the storm, Alice and Jerry had limbs and leaves throughout their 1/2 acre property.  They came home one afternoon and every leaf and branch had been picked up.  They quickly discovered that Cheryl and Eric Klueppelberg (Eric was 8 years old at the time) had accomplished this good deed.   However, the kindness didn't stop there.  Later, when an ice and snow storm hit, Alice and Jerry decided to stay indoors to avoid risk of injury on the ice.  The Klueppelberg's cleaned off a walkway to their mailbox and brought them their newspaper.  Alice and Jerry were appreciative of this act; however, there was more to come.  Jerry looked outside the next day and their neighbors were shoveling off their entire (slanted) driveway.  Alice said, "When we initially moved into this subdivision 5 years ago, we were concerned about living in a subdivision without more space around us, as we had all of our lives."  She added, "It didn't take us long to realize the importance of having neighbors close by to help when needed."  Alice and Jerry, thank you for letting us know about your caring neighbors, Cheryl, Bob and Eric Klueppelberg, who are Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
    
     Pat Treadway of Jeffersonville wanted to give kudos to one of our county officers, Nick Mobley.  "My car died as I was picking up my granddaughter from Jeff High School recently. Cars began beeping as traffic was backing up behind me, which upset me and my granddaughter, but I was unable to get my car started (the alternator had stopped working). Then, a County Officer, Cpl. Nick Mobley, showed up and was very kind. He motioned for help from some men and pushed the car for me to the side of the road. I was so nervous, I couldn't even steer, but he even leaned in the window and steered the car. I just want to recognize him for his kindness to us."  Thank you, Cpl. Mobley, for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.

    John and Delores Malone, New Albany, Indiana sent an email recognizing a great neighbor, Mr. Terry Rutledge.  They wrote, “We live in the Woodland Hills subdivision of New Albany and received a tremendous amount of snow and ice during the January storm. The driveway, from our home to the street, is long and has quite an incline. Although my husband had shoveled some snow and ice from the driveway, much more needed to be done.  One evening, in an effort to go out for food, we had great difficulty because the car kept sliding and the wheels kept spinning.  When we returned home, we were pleasantly surprised and grateful that our neighbor, Terry Rutledge, had been kind enough to come over and remove more of the snow and ice from our driveway. This made it so much easier for us to get in and out. As older citizens, we appreciated this help.”  Terry Rutledge, thank you for going the extra mile for your neighbors.

We also received kindness tips, actions, and activities that work to teach others about random kind acts and those responses will be published Sunday, April 5.  Thanks to everyone who went out of their way to make Random Acts of Kindness Week something very special in Southern Indiana.  

 
The Extra Miler - Part II - KINDNESS WEEK IN SOUTHERN INDIANA - Column 55 - April 5, 2009

By Carol A. Dawson

This is the second part to our Random Acts of Kindness Week recognitions. Last month Southern Indiana joined the nation in celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Week.  These submissions are not only kind acts themselves, but also serve as our Kindness Tips for April.  All submissions can be found on the web site:  www.theExtramilers.com.

    For the past seven years, Charlestown High School 9th grade teacher, Mary Ann Zierer, has been teaching her students that random acts of kindness are appreciated. Mary Ann hands out slips of paper when she witnesses students (in her class) performing random acts of kindness, (holding the door, lending someone a pencil, etc.). The students put their names on the papers and they are then placed in a special container. On the last two Fridays of a grading period. Mary Ann gives out $1.25 (the price of a soft drink) to the student whose name is drawn. On the last school day, Mary Ann gives larger rewards and incentives. Typically, every student gets a reward.  Mary Ann’s students are learning that beyond the good feelings they have when performing acts of kindness – they can also benefit through recognition and praise. Thanks to our Extra Miler Mary Ann Zierer and her 9th grade students!

    Amy Short, a third grade teacher from Jonathan Jennings Elementary School (JJ), Charlestown, Indiana, wrote about JJ’s school cafeteria manager, Cindy Shoultz. Amy explains, “Cindy is very kind to our students. She has created a ‘Teria’ ticket program, where students earn special little tickets. The tickets are earned for respectful and kind behavior, turning in their lunch money that is overdue, and for answering questions about their level skills, such as Larry Bell’s 12 power words. My students are so excited to tell me about earning a ticket!  They then cash these tickets once a month for a variety of prizes. Cindy has a huge cart full of prizes she has bought or made with her daughter. She is very special to our school.  She spent her summer developing this concept and getting her cart ready. The old saying “It takes a village…” is really true at JJ.”  Amy further notes, “We also have a kindness club at JJ. I am the sponsor and many students do kind things each month when we meet. They are sponsoring a kindness chain project school wide right now.” Thanks to Cindy Shoultz, Amy Short, and the awesome students of JJ Elementary, who are all Extra Milers for Southern Indiana.

    Sandy Lewis, Greater Clark County School System, told us of the charitable effort the school administrators and staff recently took to raise money for a variety of charities/non-profits.   Sandy's email stated:   “Staff members working in Greater Clark’s Administration Building were given permission in February 2003 to “dress casual” on Fridays.  The caveat to the benefit is that those participating in “dress casual” Friday pay $1.00 each week and receive a sticker to wear that day stating “Dressing Casual for Charity.” Since February 2003, over $8,762.40 has been contributed by participating staff members.   Initially all of the money collected for the pleasure of “dressing casual” was donated to the Relay for Life program.  However recognizing that some staff members may have a favorite charity that he/she supports, the activity was modified to be more inclusive. Margie Fetter, Accounts Payable Manger, volunteers her time to receive the money and distribute it to the various charities.”  Sandy hopes other organizations will PASS IT ON by emulating their effort. Margie Fetter and the Greater Clark County School System staff are commended for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers and teaching others that what may seem initially to be small acts of kindness, can combine to make a huge impact in our community.

    To observe Random Acts of Kindness Week, the Greater Clark Board of School Trustees, Travis Haire (Interim-Superintendent), and all central office administrative staff provided every Greater Clark student, faculty, and staff member with a special treat in appreciation for their hard work.  Travis Haire sent a letter of appreciation to all faculty and staff on the day before the special treat was distributed.  Information was posted in all buildings promoting “Random Acts of Kindness.”  Travis Haire and other central office staff helped distribute the special treat, a package of animal crackers.  This food item meet state requirements as a healthy food choice and the snack was low in sugar for those with restricted diets or diabetes.  We are sure the children (and adults) enjoyed the kind words and yummy treat.  Thanks Mr. Haire, School Board members, and the central administrative staff, for exemplifying kindness by being Extra Milers.

    The Riverside Elementary (Jeffersonville) Student Council sponsored Random Acts of Kindness Week.  During this week students were encouraged to do unplanned, nice things for other students and adults. Their goal was to make everyone aware of how easy it is to be kind to others every day. Students recorded their acts of kindness on colorful paper strips. These paper strips were compiled into a class chain by stapling them together with all other grade level chains. The long chain of kindness was then hung in the main hallway of the school. In past years, the children have completed enough kind acts that the chain has filled the hallway.  The visual reminder of the chain helps students see how their individual acts of kindness, when put together with others, can help make their school a better place as well as giving each student a chance to feel good about helping others.  Thank you to our young Southern Indiana Extra Milers (and their teachers) at Riverside Elementary School, for showing how acts of kindness of all sizes can combine to make a big difference in our world.
 
    Jason Thornbury nominated the Floyd County Sheriff's Dept., FOP Lodge 171 and Cops against Cancer to be recognized for the work they are doing to raise money to assist the wife of a fellow officer.  Jason wrote, "Sara Kerberg is a 29 year old mother who lives in Floyd County, Indiana with her husband Jason and their two young daughters (Meagan and Kayla). Sara Kerberg has been diagnosed and started treatment for inflammatory breast cancer. Jason is a police officer with the Floyd County Sheriff's Department.  There have been two very successful benefits to benefit Sara Kerberg:  The Great Scavenger Hunt and the Totally Awesome 80s Dance.”  Thank you Floyd County Sheriff's Dept. FOP Lodge 171, the Cops Against Cancer  and the community who attended the events, for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers!

There were several acknowledgments regarding the kind acts surrounding our police officers, Officer Keith Broady and Cpl. Dan Lawhorn, after they were recently injured in the line of duty.

    Jason Thornbury nominated several individuals and the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Parish in Jeffersonville to be recognized as Extra Milers.  The St. Paul Episcopal Church Parish in Jeffersonville, with John Grimm (Sr. Church Warden) at the helm, held a benefit fish fry held on February 27.  In their 43 year fish fry history, this was the most successful, serving approximately 2,165 dinners over a five hour period.  The coordinators recognize the essential involvement of the Jeffersonville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 100, the F.O.P. Auxiliary, police officers, and their families.  Special thanks are extended to Chef Adam Koch, Chef Joe Burges and Masterson's Restaurant.  John Grimm stated, “We truly live in an amazing community and one of which we should all be extremely proud.”   To John Grimm and all involved in the Fund Raiser, thank you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers!

    Jeffersonville Police Chief Tim Deeringer publicly thanked everyone who gave blood through the American Red Cross to help our injured police officers.  He also thanked the Jeffersonville Police Officers, their families, the doctors and staff of the University of Louisville Hospital, the assisting law enforcement agencies from Louisville and Southern Indiana (including the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), the Jeffersonville Fire Department, Yellow Ambulance medical technicians, those who have participated in fund raisers, and the community for showing support in many different ways.  There are more fund raisers planned – in an ongoing effort to show support through these special acts of generosity.  Thanks to everyone involved.
 
    Thanks to the Evening News and New Albany Tribune for publicizing events to benefit our injured Police Officers.  Keep it up!  

For Columns 59-102, CLICK HERE

THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 53 - Bonnie Ryan Uses Extra Energy to go Extra Mile for Others - February 7, 2009
By Carol Dawson












Extra Miler Bonnie Ryan and Angel Marie

How do you comply with the typical column length specifications of 750 words or less when introducing Southern Indiana to an 80 year old dynamo?!

Gail Stumler sent an email describing Bonnie Ryan as an Extra Miler, along with a list of volunteer activities that flowed beyond two pages. She wrote, “Bonnie is an excellent candidate for the Extra Miler award because she is a shining example of how life should be after retirement.”   

Upon first contact with Bonnie via telephone, she asked if I would mind calling her back in a minute.  She was talking to her 22 year old grandson, Ben Haws, who calls her every night to check on her well being.  Her 17 year old granddaughter, Hayley Haws, calls her every day also, as does Bonnie’s daughter, Jayne Ryan, and brother, Ron Jenkins.  

Bonnie is not without sincere family love and she wanted this column to include mention of the family she loves so dearly, “My family is the light of my life.”  She adds, “Their devotion is a blessing and they inspire me to keep active and giving back to my community.”

Bonnie retired in 1989, after working for Bell South for 43 years.  She said, “I started out as one of those old-time operators.”  Bonnie progressed through the ranks within the company; however, her favorite job was always that of a telephone operator.  She explained, “It was fun to help people communicate and connect.”  

Bonnie’s husband, Joe, retired the next year.  They spent several years enjoying retirement until Joe passed away in 2000.  Bonnie found herself feeling a bit lost until she decided to, “get up off the couch and start getting involved with the community.”  

Bonnie now coordinates the volunteers at the Center for Lay Ministries in Jeffersonville and spends most of her volunteer hours with them.  She coordinates volunteer schedules to ensure someone is available to work during operating hours (if someone can’t make a shift, she often works it herself), picks up bread and groceries for the pantry shelves, helps stock the shelves, works the registration desk, completes and records applications for assistance, takes phone calls, and ensures everyone who may be hungry during the Christmas holidays – will open their door to a basket of food.

Mark Porter, Director for Center for Lay Ministries was happy to describe Bonnie’s value to the organization, “Bonnie's loyalty to the Center is the foundation for all she does. She has a heart for helping people.  She is tireless in her dedication.”

Gail noted that Bonnie also volunteers for the New Albany Police Department (NAPD) every week, assists the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Center for Women and Families, and her church, Eastside Christian Church.  Gail stated, “Bonnie exemplifies for me what life-after-working can be for everyone.”  She adds, “With her loving spirit, she sets a true example of how to have a fulfilling and meaningful life in retirement years.”  

Bonnie’s volunteer work crosses through so many organizations that sometimes she forgets who she is helping and one day answered the NAPD telephone with, “Center for Lay Ministries.”  She quickly corrected her error but laughs when telling how surprised the caller sounded.  

Sgt. Todd Bailey directs the volunteers for the NAPD and he was eager to express appreciation for Bonnie’s service.  He explained, “Bonnie is essential to our front desk…she is dedicated, professional, friendly, and eager to help.”  He adds, “Bonnie is a true asset to the NAPD and we are extremely grateful for her service.”  

I asked Bonnie how she gets through the difficult times in her life and she quickly replied, “I trust in the Lord…when things get rough, I simply start quoting the prayer, The Lord is my Shepherd.”

Bonnie sums up her volunteerism by stating, “I just love volunteering – helping others is my reward,” adding, “When you help another person, they become part of your life…they become a friend.”  

It seems that we rarely find true value in our lives through personal ambition or the sense that giving back to the community is an obligation. Instead, the value comes from pure devotion to make a positive difference for those less fortunate than ourselves…pure devotion like that of Bonnie Ryan.  

So, how do you sum up the achievements of a woman like Bonnie Ryan in 750 words or less?  You don’t even try.  Bonnie, thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
 

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Bonnie suggests, “It is never too late to become an active volunteer – no matter your age."

Have you made your plans to be part of the Random (or premeditated) Acts of Kindness Week – February 9-15, 2009?   We want to showcase Extra Milers throughout our area.  Report acts of kindness through the contact information below and we will post them to the national Random Acts of Kindness site:  http://www.actsofkindness.org/node/597638.  Involve your family, school, office, neighbors and friends.  Be creative – be bold – and go that extra mile in 2009.  

Mayor Galligan has kicked our week off by signing a Proclamation to celebrate Kindness Week in Jeffersonville and Town of Clarksville Council President, Gregory Isgrigg, also signed a Kindness Proclamation, as did Indiana Governor Mitchell Daniels, inviting all citizens to duly note the occasion.

Sadly, Nicholaus' cancer returned and after battling this horrible disease for several years, he passesd away at 16.  Rest in peace, Nicholaus, you are indeed a super-hero.   

The Extra Miler   - Colu mn #39 - January 2008 - A LITTLE RESPECT GOES A LONG WAY: Meet Kari Rigrish       
By:  Carol A. Dawson












“Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”  ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Clarksville Community Schools Superintendent Stephen Fisher stopped Kari Rigrish as she walked in for our interview and teasingly asked, “Are you in trouble again, Kari?”  He followed her into the room and introduced himself.  When he was told Kari was our Southern Indiana Extra Miler he smiled and quickly responded, “Kari is a young person who respects herself.”  He added, “It is a big thing to me that people respect themselves and also respect others – Kari does both.”  Kari blushed.   

Our Extra Miler this month is Kari Rigrish, a senior at Clarksville High School.  Kari is many things to many people – but most of all, she is a caring person to everyone.  Kari volunteers with many school activities, including National Honor Society, school yearbook, cheerleading, school concessions, and as a Teacher’s Assistant.  She often takes a leadership role in her activities, such as being the editor of the yearbook and the captain of the cheerleaders.  

Kari’s teacher, Ms. Christina Faulkner, nominated her as an Extra Miler stating, “Kari is a caring leader who is respectful and helpful to everyone.”  Ms. Faulkner added, “She has a rare combination of many positive traits, including being very empathetic toward others.”  

Ms. Faulkner told of how Kari works with the freshman cheerleaders to give them confidence and ensure they are comfortable with their new high school environment.  She noted that Kari is an upbeat and happy person, “She is compassionate and motivated, but at the same time she is fun and likes to laugh.”  Ms. Faulkner added, “People just enjoy being around Kari.”  

Her cousin, close friend, mentor, and part time supervisor Candi Stockdale, raves about how special Kari is to all who know her, “Kari has always been a good person, partly because she has such a good family.”  When asked about Kari’s family, Candi replied, “Her family is rare…they have a strong bond and truly enjoy being with one another.”

Noting Kari’s maturity and leadership capabilities, Candi adds that Kari has a fun side, “Kari loves to laugh and she has an ongoing competition with my brother to see who can get a photograph of the most people in a single photograph, with them included and taking the photograph.”

Kari works for the YMCA part time, Children’s Place part time, as a summer camp counselor, and volunteers each week for her church (Ohio Falls United Methodist) as the Assistant Teacher for Youth Church.  She talks lovingly about the young children, “It is such fun to work with the young kids and to teach them about the bible one week and then hear the lesson repeated back to you the next week – they are amazing.”  

Kari’s peers refer to her as being energetic, compassionate, independent, outgoing, caring, and motivated.  Not bad references for a teenager.  She wants to major in Secondary Education at either IUS or IU Bloomington, making a career out of working with children.  

Kari remembers the first time she became involved in volunteer work.  She was in 6th grade and a group of youth planned to go to Haven House to volunteer for the evening.  She was a little scared, as she listened to some of the talk about the homeless shelter.  She didn’t know what to expect; however, after she arrived and met the people who lived there, Kari was hooked on the volunteer feeling.  She recalls, “We started out coloring with the children and then later helped with the meal and the people were very gracious…they let us know how special we made their day.”  

When asked why she performs acts of kindness and generosity, Kari responded, “Kindness is something that should come natural.  It is something I do for myself because I get more from it than I give.  Kindness becomes reciprocal….does that make sense?”  Kari Rigrish, it certainly does make sense.  You are a role model and leader for the youth in our community and we thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:   Kari’s Tip:  There are small things you can do every day to brighten another person’s day.  When you pass a stranger, just smile and say hello.  Offer a friendly face and when you can, ask how they are doing.  No matter how small this may seem, we never know the impact it can make.  If you are kind to one person, and that person passes it on, it can continue to grow.

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The Extra Miler  - Article #28 - JoAnn Robbins - Loving Caregiver          
By:  Carol A. Dawson












“That which I love is always beautiful.”   Norwegian Proverb

It is far too easy to see the negative in people and in our own life.  However, our Extra Miler JoAnn Robbins doesn’t see things in that manner.  She looks for the beauty that is within the people she meets and it is obvious that they see her beauty in return.

JoAnn will be surprised by this column, as she is so adamant that she is not deserving of recognition, that her friends who nominated her advised it might be best to keep it a secret until publication.

JoAnn is best described by her friends as the perpetual caregiver.  Her sister-in-law, our own Extra Miler Norma Robbins, stated, “JoAnn is simply not a judgmental person.  She accepts people for who they are and she is always open to help a friend.”  JoAnn seems to bypass the negative and focus on the positive.  She is the type of friend that everyone wants by their side.

JoAnn’s cousin, Doris Jean Wright described how JoAnn never turns anyone down who is in need of help, “Dixie Staley, JoAnn’s neighbor was one of the many recipients of JoAnn’s generous and loving nature.  JoAnn was always by Dixie’s side for whatever she needed, and more. When Dixie passed away recently, it was a huge loss for JoAnn.”  When asked about JoAnn’s motivation for doing so much for so many, Doris Jean replied, “It is obvious that JoAnn does everything she does to please God…she loves the Lord and her motivation and strength comes from that love.”

“JoAnn is a true servant leader,” comments Bruce Barkhauer, her minister from First Christian Church.  “She has been involved in several key projects for our congregation, including a process of faithful planning and the oversight of a 2.5 million dollar construction project that resulted in our Grace Center.”  JoAnn saw the need for this facility and saw it as not just a building, but an opportunity for her church to reach out to the people in her community.

Bruce adds, “JoAnn has a passion for helping others and has dedicated her life in retirement to working at places such as the Community Kitchen and offering care for the elderly.  She is involved in her community, is an advocate for those in need, and is a gifted organizer.”

JoAnn gives fully of herself no matter the time of day or night and never complains of the intrusion or the time.  Friends talk of times when JoAnn has been called out in the middle of the night to drive to a friend’s home to provide assistance.   She goes willingly and without hesitation.

When Norma Robbins married her now late husband, Dave Robbins, she distinctly recalls how accepted she felt after meeting JoAnn, “JoAnn accepted me unconditionally with a hug and a smile and I can never fully express to her how much that meant to me.”

JoAnn possesses one of those unique virtuous hearts.  Norma Robbins ended our interview with these words, “JoAnn has a huge heart and her purpose in life is to help people in need.  Her father taught all of his children to look for the good in people and to be quick to offer a helping hand.”

Because of her unconditional love for mankind and her every day witness to the joy of giving care to those in need, we thank JoAnn Robbins for being our Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  Surprise, JoAnn!

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Set an example for the young people in your life by doing good deeds when they are with you.  Don’t wait for something to be formally organized – go out with your children and show them how to “give back” to their community.  Pick up trash in a local park, offer to shop for a neighbor who needs assistance, or make cookies for someone who is ill or shut in.  Studies have proven that altruistic people are typically happier people and happier people are typically healthier people.  So I guess this means that one of the best ways to be healthy is to be kind to others.  

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The Extra Miler - Column #32 - Kelly Allen Has A Giving Soul      
By:  Carol A. Dawson










“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.  Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”  Albert Camus

You don’t have to go far to find a teen Extra Miler in Southern Indiana.  Kelly Allen, an athlete, musician, and Jeffersonville High School (JHS) senior honor student with a 3.9 GPA, is living proof of a teenager who characteristically fits the Extra Miler profile.

Kelly has a vibrant spirit of giving in her soul.  A classic example occurred last Halloween.  Kelly had befriended Mai, a JHS foreign exchange student and fellow marching band member.  Mai was with Kelly when the Director of Bands, John Cooksey, advised they would be practicing on Halloween night and could dress in costume during practice.

Mai, never having experienced Halloween, asked Kelly why students would dress up in costumes.  Kelly explained the concept of trick-or-treating; however, Mai was confused.  She said the Japanese people would not hand out free candy to children coming to their homes.

Kelly decided that Mai needed to experience the generosity of her neighbors through the tradition of Halloween and arranged for several neighbors to allow Mai to trick or treat after the designated hours...in costume.  Kelly’s eyes light up and she becomes animated as she talks about how excited her friend was to experience trick-or-treating in Southern Indiana.  Mai is now in Japan; however, she and Kelly continue to correspond.

Kelly is very giving of her time and energy.  She has been in the Big Brother/Big Sister program for two years and happily describes how proud she is of her “little sister,” Abby, who is now in third grade.

Since eighth grade, Kelly has performed with the JHS band.  John Cooksey, the Director of Bands, describes her as, “an extremely talented musician and natural leader.”  He adds, “Kelly has an innate ability to know when a person needs assistance or is feeling stressed.  She goes out of her way to make them feel comfortable and safe in their environment.”

When asked about the first time she volunteered, Kelly replied, “I went with my grandmother to our church Clothe-A-Child event and it was a lot of fun helping the girl, who was older, pick out clothes.”  She adds, “That experience left me with a positive memory and a desire to continue helping others.”

Kelly is active in the JHS Anchor Club.  The Club sponsor, Nancy Molnar, describes Kelly as, “a mature and focused young woman who is an all-around good person.”  Ms. Molnar adds, “When you give Kelly a project, it is easy to forget about it because you know Kelly will get it done quickly and efficiently and she will give it 110 percent.”

Our Extra Miler is also very active in her church, Jeffersonville First Christian Church, where she assists with Jr. Worship programs, the Blood Drive, Clothe-A-Child, and has attended numerous Youth Mission Trips.  The mission trips are near and dear to Kelly’s heart, “I like to see the joy we bring others with these mission trips…I get so much more than I can ever give.”  The recent Birmingham mission trip was her favorite because, “we all became so close – the youth and the sponsors.  We became closer through the blending of God’s love and helping others.”

If you ask Kelly Allen about her life philosophy, she doesn’t hesitate with a response, “I like to be around people who are happy and I’ll work hard to create situations where people are having fun and laughing together.”  This writer can attest to this as fact because one evening last October I greeted a young Asian girl at my door, trick-or-treating and laughing with her friends. The pure joy on her face told me she would never forget this representative act of love or her wonderful friends in Southern Indiana.  Kelly, thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Kelly encourages our Southern Indiana readers to perform every day acts of kindness.  She closed our interview with these words, “You never know how impacting a simple smile or hello can be to someone who is having a really bad day and it is such a simple thing to do.”  Simple indeed, Kelly…thank you for reminding us that random acts of kindness should be part of our every day routines.

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Cassie Nale











L-R Kate Merchant, Clara Smith - volunteer, Doug Feuerhelm, Phyllis Wilkins,Mary Lou Densford

The Extra Miler   - May 2008 - Column Number 42          
By:  Carol A. Dawson

"I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.”  Leo Rosten

Think of somebody in your life who is a constant force of goodness…a person who possesses a quiet strength…a person who you can always rely upon… someone who can be trusted with everything you value most in life.   If you are fortunate, the face of a friend or family member who fits this description will immediately come to mind.  The Clark County Chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC) has just such a friend and volunteer working with their agency, Doug Feuerhelm, and he is recognized as our Southern Indiana Extra Miler for May.  

Phyllis Wilkins, the American Red Cross Executive Director for Clark County, nominated Doug as an Extra Miler, stating, “Doug originally came to us after his retirement from UPS as a financial auditor and signed up to assist with office/clerical work; however, he quickly became so much more!”   The employees at the ARC have learned they can depend on Doug for a variety of professional duties, from accounting to creating their online class catalog.  

Kate Merchant, ARC’s Program Director for Safety and Health, is a true Doug Feuerhelm fan.  When asked to describe our Extra Miler, Kate responded, “Doug has assumed the majority of the in-house accounting activities for the ARC and his expertise is invaluable.”  Kate adds, “Doug not only works his fingers to the bone, he is a great co-worker who never has a harsh word for anybody.”  

Doug has been a volunteer for the ARC for three years. Initially, Phyllis thought he would be volunteering a few hours a week.  She couldn’t have been more wrong.  Doug’s dedication to the ARC and their needs has him working at least 3 or 4 hours every day.  He typically begins his day at 8:30 AM and will stay until the job is done, which may be a full 8 hours or longer.  

Doug is married to Jean and they have two daughters, Merrilee Feuerhelm and Shannon Miller.  He is known around the ARC office as having several great loves:  family, church, classic cars, music, dogs, and cheesecake.  Doug combines a couple of those passions by driving to his daughter’s home in Louisville every day and walking her dogs, making him a devoted puppy Grandpa.

There is no doubt the significant impact this Extra Miler had made with everyone who works or volunteers with the ARC.  Phyllis states, “Doug has impacted the Red Cross through his generosity, his faithfulness, honesty, and his frugality, when our resources are very low…he looks to always do what is best for the ARC and the community we serve.”    

Kate agrees, “We call Doug our “Big Dog,” because he is our go-to man for so many things.”  She adds, “His generosity, both with his time and also as a financial supporter, is beyond compare…he has made our chapter a better place and our people are better for having worked with him.”  

Positive words abound when co-workers describe Doug – cheerful, trustworthy, dedicated, respectful, kind and intelligent.  He has become the exemplary volunteer for the Red Cross.

As if all these adjectives were not enough to describe our Extra Miler, in August 2005 during the Katrina Hurricane disaster, Doug took his duties to yet another level.  He was already working long volunteer hours assisting with the massive amount of paperwork at hand for the ARC.  In the midst of recruiting volunteers to help with the clean up efforts, Doug offered to spend three weeks helping in New Orleans.  Although he was sincerely missed by the local chapter, they knew Doug’s time would be invaluable to the people who were devastated by Katrina.  

Phyllis closed our interview with this comment, “I know every other non-profit agency official who reads this column is going to be envious that we have the “ultimate volunteer,” but my wish is that they be blessed with their own “Doug.”  Phyllis reflects for a moment and adds, “Don’t ever miss an opportunity to say thank you to those volunteers – each and every day.”  

Thank you, Doug Feuerhelm, for being a good citizen, the ultimate volunteer, and a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.

Kindness Tip of the Month:   For the next few months, the Kindness Tip will relate to Southern Indiana’s support for our troops.  The Blue Star Mothers recently discovered a local non-profit (Cedar Ridge Camp, Inc.), who is raising money to provide a summer camp experience for children of military parents who are currently deployed.  If you or your business would like to send a child to Camp Hope (cost is $350 per child), or if you would like to collect items (from the military wish list) and letters/cards at your church or place of business, contact the Blue Star Mothers through Vanessa Coulter at 502-572-5914 or email inbluestarmom@insightbb.com.

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The Extra Milers - Column #5 - Louise Ross
Carol A. Dawson













Great Accomplishments Come From Small Packages - Louise Ross

While talking with Louise Ross, she apologetically took multiple breaks responding to telephone calls from community organizations asking her opinion and guidance. No doubt she is a very popular person in Clark County . While she was away, I took the time to roam around the room (otherwise known as snooping) and note an obvious theme of friendship, love, and hope. These words were found everywhere – embroidered on pillows, on cards, in pictures and on the wall. Louise clearly gives and receives love. My mission this day was to find out what motivates this tiny woman to accomplish so many big acts of kindness.

Louise Ross, a retired school teacher, is very petite (4 ft. 8 in. tall) and delicate in appearance. However, when meeting Louise, you quickly learn not to let her appearance fool you. She is a dynamo, with the energy and vitality of the young people she works to assist. Louise advised, “I get a lot of my energy from the youth in our community. It is pretty simple…they inspire me.”

It was the winter of 1987, when Louise and two other school teachers (Debbie Grimes and Ruth Ann Waterfield) recognized a needs gap with the children in Clark County . They knew that many children were not getting the special attention they needed with school work and saw a need for education beyond what classroom time could provide. Besides homework assistance and guidance in proper social skills, the teachers wanted to teach drug prevention and work to involve family members in the progress of their children. This program was to go beyond what other organizations were providing, which typically included childcare and basic help with homework. Many of the children who were envisioned as part of the program also needed an adult to listen and give them HOPE for a brighter future. Louise was determined to pragmatically move this vision into reality.

The teachers gave up their summer to create a non-profit agency appropriately named, HOPE. Louise helped with acquiring grants, setting up the non-profit, acquiring community and school system support, and identifying those children who would benefit from the program. Louise describes that summer as a simple act of love for children; however, there was nothing simple about it. The first year 16 children were in the HOPE program. At peak, enrollment was 125 students and HOPE is currently serving the needs of 80 children.

Louise continues to be active in the HOPE program; however she doesn’t stop with her HOPE involvement. She is extremely involved in the activities and good deeds of First Christian Church (FCC), Jeffersonville (including working with the youth), she is just completing a term as President for the local Retired Teacher’s Association and volunteers as a leader for Hospice. I jokingly asked Louise what she did with her free time. This question brought an immediate smile just before she jumped up to grab a photo from her dresser. In the photo were two young adults in their 20s who were holding two babies. She explained that the two older children were her grandchildren and the two babies were her newly adopted grandchildren. I stopped to clarify her statement by asking if she meant “great grandchildren.” “No,” was her concerted response, “My son and his wife raised their older children and then adopted these babies from other countries.” It appears her children have very well learned Louise’s lessons of love. Louise joyously talked of sharing her free time with the new grandchildren.

The minister of First Christian Church, Jeffersonville, Bruce Barkhauer, had this to say when asked about the kindness of Louise Ross, "Louise is amazing! She is a bundle of energy driven by a wonderful compassion for others. What I find most intriguing about her is that she is seemingly ageless and timeless. She is not bound by traditional conventions in which most people operate relative to age or gender. Louise can be visiting and working with a senior women's circle one minute and leading the senior high school boys on a mission trip the next. Somehow she does this seamlessly and without effort."

When asked what motivates her to go the extra mile, Louise didn’t hesitate to respond, “Every child has a special gift. Every single child deserves to have these gifts recognized and nurtured. My love for children and education provides a natural desire to help out in any way possible.” Her smile faded as she began speaking of the loss of her beloved husband, Bob. “When I lost Bob in 2000, I began a quest to find out who I am and to discover my individual identity. I needed to know my life was going to count for something and I work at that commitment every day.” Louise advocates getting through life with the three essential Fs: Faith, Family and Friends. It is clear she has an abundance of all three.

It has been 18 years since HOPE began and hundreds of children have passed through the program. Funding for any non-profit is always a struggle and it has been no different for HOPE. The organization is currently evaluating their program after the loss of a significant funding source. This is clearly a difficult time for Louise. So much of her life has been spent serving others and giving HOPE to our children. As Louise contemplates the future of HOPE, there is an obvious lingering thought that she must find an answer to ensure this good work doesn’t stop. There is one thing for certain; many of our youth have been able to find a positive path through life because of the dedication and acts of kindness of Louise Ross. For her generous gift of HOPE and unmistakable love, Louise Ross is one of our Clark County Extra Milers.

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and President of a national training and consulting company, EEO Guidance, Inc . If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an extra miler, let us know about it. To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or send mail to: The Extra Milers, The Evening News, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.

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Cathy Guthrie







 

Becky Boman placed the Extra Miler Pin on Pam Strong-Frymire - both are Southern Indiana Extra Milers

The Extra Milers - Big Sisters Making A Difference For Children
By Carol A. Dawson - Column #46 - August 2008

Pam Strong-Frymire is quick to pass credit elsewhere for her work as a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  She gets her inspiration from her faith, “I have a call to serve the Lord and all that I do is done in an attempt to be obedient.”  Pam adds, “The path chosen for me has certainly been exciting!”  

Pam has been the Communication Director and a leader for Christian Academy in New Albany, Indiana since the doors were originally opened as Northside Christian Academy.  Pam’s recent “retirement” from the school coincided with the need to make time to pursue other interests. After many years working for the school and enjoying the environment she states, “This is just one of those times when you know it is time to move on.”  Pam quickly adds, “I have absolutely no doubt the future of the school is in excellent hands.”


Optimistic and upbeat, Pam survived some difficult years in the past – her husband passed away thirteen years ago and she was left to raise their two young sons, Morgan and Evan.  She is quick to note that she didn’t raise and nurture the boys on her own.  They had a community of positive role models for which she is sincerely grateful.

Pam has also survived breast cancer and much of her decision to retire stems from her desire to focus some of her extra time and energy to study health and wellness.  It is remarkable that Pam could even have excess energy or time, as she keeps busy with multiple activities, including church ministries, her family, and most recently, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BB/BS).  

Pam’s involvement with BB/BS started with a ministry visit to a prison where she met an incarcerated woman who showed her a photo of her two young daughters.  She asked that her daughters, Cheyene and Sydney receive prayers for their happiness and well being.  Pam began praying for the girls and thinking of how she could help.  She knew of a new BB/BS program started for the children of women in prison and hoped to get the girls enrolled.

Initially Pam didn’t anticipate being a Big Sister; however, that changed when her son’s girlfriend, Becky Boman, asked if she could assist Pam in her ministries. The timing of Becky’s request was a significant sign to Pam and she knew life would once again be taking her on another exciting journey.  She and Becky have been Big Sisters to Cheyene and Sydney for nearly two years.  

When the duo met their little sisters they became mentors and quick friends.  The four-some have attended a concert, birthday parties, scrap booking events, Waterfront Park, the backside of Churchill Downs, and more.  Pam and Becky have also attended school activities in support of the girls.  

At a recent party in Pam’s home to celebrate a family birthday, eight year old Sydney stated, “This is so exciting…it is the first birthday party I’ve ever been to…”  As she tells the story, Pam hesitated, seemingly lost in the memory.  She then added, “These girls are thrilled to be experiencing things many of us take for granted.”

It didn’t take a long conversation with Pam to realize there was another Extra Miler to be recognized this month.  When asked what motivates her to work with the BB/BS program, Becky responded, “I came from a troubled family and I’m determined to do all I can to help children who may be experiencing a similar situation.”  

Becky, a bright eyed and charming young woman, attends Ivy Technical Community College and aspires to be a Pediatric Nurse.  Her busy schedule leaves no time for television or acting as a couch cover as she works part time and volunteers for Kosair Hospital, Floyd Memorial Hospital, BB/BS and her church, Northside Christian.  

Becky spoke of her future with the Strong-Frymire family with a face-hugging smile, and commented, “Whatever I do, it will include helping children…it breaks my heart to see them suffer.”  For Becky, sharing is one of the best remedies for poverty and she has especially enjoyed sharing her life with Cheyene and Sydney.

Both Pam and Becky are human power-packs, looking for signs of how they can continue passing along on their joy for life.  Pam ended our interview with one of her favorite quotes, “Little boys and girls learn to be big men and women in the presence of big men and women who care about little boys and girls.”  Because these two women have made a significant difference in the lives of the people in our community, we honor them as our Extra Milers.  

Thank you, Becky and Pam, for being our August Southern Indiana Extra Milers.

KINDNESS TIP OF THE MONTH:  Pam and Becky ask that we all open our eyes to see the children in our community.  There are so many who need your love and attention.  If you can give just four hours a month, contact the Big Brothers Big Sisters and ask how you can help.  BB/BS provides guidance and even free tickets to special events in the community to assist the mentoring process.  Local contact information is:  BB/BS of Kentuckiana, Inc.
1519 Gardiner Lane, Suite B, Louisville, KY 40218 / www.bbbsky.org -  Phone:  (502) 587-0494  (Children are waiting – call today.)

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The Extra Milers  -Columns 11 & 12 - KATRINA DISASTER DO-GOODERS (FCC Church/Landers/Kempers)
Written by: Carol A. Dawson














 

When the heart grieves over what it has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has left” Sufi Epigram

When Julie and Greg Landers received the call telling them there was a family from the New Orleans area who could use their empty rental property, Julie was more than excited. She paralled the announcement to the euphoria of welcoming a new baby to the family. As it turns out, they were doing just that…as baby Joseph (just shy of his second birthday) came to live in the Lander’s home with his grandmother Grace DeVillier (Mama D), the family matriarch. They moved in the week of September 12, along with Grace’s nephew, Carlo. Julie turned to her friends at First Christian Church (FCC) in Jeffersonville to assist in furnishing the home.


Grace’s son, Fred J. DeVillier, who drove 30 hours round trip to rescue the family from his mother’s destroyed home in Picayune, Mississippi, was also finding generous assistance from his military family, especially Major Armand Bolotte, the 123d Base Supply Commander, Colonel Kraus and Colonel Dornbush of the Kentucky Air National Guard (KYANG). Julie knew the family would need everything from baby supplies to kitchenware, from sheets to toiletress, and of course, furniture.

The Clark County Extra Milers went to work and soon an entire home was completely furnished, including stuffed animals and new clothes on the bed for Joseph. Quickly following the Lander’s happy news was information that there were more family members to be housed. A call for assistance brought an immediate response from Dr. Charles Kemper and his wife, Linda. They own an older home that was empty and didn’t hesitate to offer their place to the remaining family members; however, the family would have to double up with Grace until repairs to the house could be made.


The remaining family members, along with their two beloved dogs, moved into the Kemper’s home after working to get the repairs completed in the home and major appliances installed. All the offers of furniture and household items that were not needed earlier were collected for the second home and violá; a second residence quickly became a home. Mama D and Carlo now live in one home and the remaining family members live in the other…rent free for several months, giving the family time to get settled into the community with jobs.

The DeVillier family members recently had a “thank you” fish fry and shrimp boil at their new home in Jeffersonville . They invited everyone they could find who provided assistance during their journey from Katrina’s devastation. Mama D is quick to tell you that there are too many people to count who have helped their family feel welcome into Jeffersonville . She begins naming them…FCC, the KYANG, Chase Bank, Save-A-Lot Grocery, Dollar General, Kroger, FEMA, the American Red Cross, a local doctor, and the list went on and on. “Everywhere we go people recognize our accents and offer to help in any way they can.” When asked if the family will stay in Jeffersonville , Mama D was quick to respond, “We feel welcome here, have family here, and like it here. We have no home to take us back to Louisiana ; we lost everything, our plan is to rebuild our lives in this area.”

 The American Red Cross introduced me next to a family who escaped their own horror of Katrina’s devastation to find their way to Clark County , Clarksville . Once again it was a family tie that brought them to Southern Indiana , Kim Smith. Kim’s sister, Patricia (Pat) Stewart made some of the best Hot Tamales in the New Orleans area before being driven from her home by the rising flood waters. After working in the food industry for 28 years, she misses her trade and wants to find employment to use her cooking talents. She and her family were rescued from the Houston Astrodome by Kim after many long hours traveling from their flooded homes, which including a night sleeping on an interstate with nothing more than a jacket or blanket between their bodies and the asphalt.


Pat’s daughter, Rhonda, was 9 months pregnant that night on the interstate. They were waiting for a bus to take them to Houston . Pat isn’t too pleased with the manner in which many of the Louisiana Katrina evacuees responded to the tragedy, “I realize many people lost everything, but so did my family, and we didn’t act disrespectful. They needed to be more patient and understanding of the people who were trying to help.”

Then Pat’s eyes dance as she talks about how generous and good hearted people have been to her family - from Louisiana to Southern Indiana. There were a couple of special expressions of love that occurred along the journey that she wanted to share. She told of a preacher who they met while in the shelter in Texas , “He came to us and asked us if we needed anything. We told him that we needed prayers for the safety of our family who were lost during the chaos of the storm.” She added, “We are a large family and didn’t know where many were or if they made it out alive.


The preacher wrote down each and every name and prayed with us. Within a few hours, the calls started coming in and within several days we had heard from every family member.” With her hands pressed together, Pat softly said, “We are grateful for God’s miracle that everyone was okay.” Another highlight was a kind deed performed by the classmates of Pat’s niece, Destiny Bradford, a 4 th grader at Lillian Emery Elementary School in New Albany .


Soon after arriving in Clark County , Rhonda’s baby, Maya, was born. The 4 th graders “adopted” baby Mya and sent a basket full of gifts and well wishes. Pat and her family tell of special new friends, church groups, and businesses that have taken them under their wings and given them security and love for today and hope for the future. The Covenant Life Church congregation in Jeffersonville has come through with furniture, food, and clothing to ensure they have the necessities needed to be comfortable. One family member stated, “It hasn’t been necessary to ask for anything. People just bring it to us.” Their apartments, Courtyard Square Apartments, were rented to them for $1 a month for up to six months.

Six children made the journey with Pat from Louisiana to Clarksville . Four are in local schools (Parkwood Elementary). One would think this experience would hinder their concentration and create a difficult learning environment; however, quite the opposite has occurred. Pat stated the class sizes here are much smaller than in New Orleans and the children are doing exceedingly well in school with the special attention they are getting from their teachers and the other students. Darnisha, a 4 th grader, said her teacher was helping her a lot and had purchased school supplies for her. Michael was getting ready to celebrate his 7 th birthday with family and new friends at the local roller rink. The children have clearly fallen into a comfortable and happy routine.

The men are working two jobs at various businesses in the area and are hoping to get better paying jobs to help their family become self sustaining and to start building their lives. When I asked how they were being treated by their employers, they looked concerned and asked, “Is it legal here to hold back checks after a person has worked for two weeks?” I attempted to explain the state law on holding the first paycheck. This is not done in Louisiana and they were shocked when told they could work for two to four weeks before getting a first paycheck. Otherwise, the men say they have been treated well by their employers.


When asked if the family will plan to make their homes in the area, Pat said they have been thinking about that question and really do not know the answer. Her daughter, Rhonda, said she wanted to go home when possible, adding that she is most comfortable in Louisiana . Since her home was flooded, she does not know if they have a place to live when she returns. So the story goes for the families affected by the devastation of Katrina…much of their lives are left to speculation and hope. I asked what would keep this family in the area and Pat answered without hesitation, “It would be the schools. Our children are doing better here and are getting a better education.” The men said that full time good paying jobs would keep them here. Pat is a tremendously spiritual and grateful woman – with extreme loyalty to her family and appreciation for all of the extra milers who have touched their lives since Katrina.

These are the stories of just two families who found their way to Indiana and discovered a county full of Hoosiers with generously big hearts. Kindness has poured out from all over Southern Indiana . Jeffersonville Jazzercise held a special event and donated several thousand dollars to Katrina evacuees while some of the local Louisiana displaced women enjoyed free passes to Jazzercise classes during their time in our area. Teddy bears were collected with generous assistance from the Clarksville Toys R Us store, local citizens, and Standard Security Services to be given to the children as they arrived with their families to pick up “comfort kits.” Many companies and government agencies collected monetary donations for various charity sources, local businesses allowed the Katrina families to purchase on credit, banks set up immediate accounts to ensure the evacuees could make necessary purchases and obtain direct deposits, hundreds of average citizens became extraordinary volunteers (there were 77 volunteer representatives deployed from the Clark County ARC and more leave every day), and people found simple joy in digging a little deeper to help. Clearly Clark County citizens were giving as a privilege not an obligation.
 
From the beginning of the Katrina disaster, it has been a whirlwind of Clark County and Southern Indiana Extra Milers begging to be involved and to help. One of the survivors, Thomas DeVillier, entertained me during my visit with the family by speaking in “Cajun.” He used a word, lagniappe a couple of times. I asked him the meaning of this strange word. Thomas responded, “It is used a lot where we live. It means a little something extra.” He spelled the word for me and I looked it up later.

Lagniappe, pronounced lan-yap, derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.” The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans . It is still used in the Gulf States to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.” There is no doubt that Clark County came through with lagniappe for our brothers and sisters who came here with little more than their pride, determination, and the clothes on their backs. The Evening News thanks all who went to the disaster area to save lives and rebuild, and to those who gave our new friends the needed gift of our welcoming open arms.

Most people have the innate desire to do kind things for those in need of help. Having the opportunity to help these families from Mississippi and Louisiana brought a mysterious sort of euphoria to Clark County . Our community came together to ensure these men and women felt welcome and their children felt safe. Clark County found that it is easy to be an Extra Miler during a time of a national tragedy, but the true test to be Extra Milers comes from sustaining our actions and good deeds into habit…and don’t forget the lagniappe.

Kindness Tip of the Month: Add lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) to your vocabulary and then build in those extra gifts or acts of kindness to your everyday lives. Don’t wait until a national disaster.
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EEO GUIDANCE, Inc.

CALL 812-284-2993  or email us:  Cdawson@eeoguidance.com

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L to R:  Dana Nieman, Susan Gilmore, Regina DeCaro, and Andi Hannah

The Extra Miler   - JUNE 2008 - Column Number 43         
Women Helping Southern Indiana Beat the Habit
By Carol A. Dawson

When it comes to bringing values to life –  to doing the good, right, and appropriate thing…we're always working at it, we're never totally there, and the challenge starts
all over again with each new tomorrow. --  Eric Harvey and Steve Ventura

Our society discusses the diversity of generations ad infinitum; however, some things just do not change from one generation to the next.  With each new set of wee little ones, we idealistically believe they will become more progressive thinkers than ourselves.  We then feel helpless as we observe our future citizens emulate those behaviors we would prefer they shun.  

One nasty habit many pass on to our young adults is cigarette smoking.   In walk our June  Extra Milers:  Andrea Hannah, Regina DeCaro, Dana Nieman, and Susan Gilmore.  These women have no intention of silently watching our young adults take up this addiction.  They are each actively working with the Clark County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition (CCTPCC) to ensure our children (and adults) have the information and tools they need to make intelligent decisions about smoking and their health.   

Susan, Dana, Regina, and Andrea work tirelessly to get the facts out about the dangers of cigarette smoking and second hand smoke.  They do this, despite the negative responses they often receive while converting their passion into action.  

A few weeks ago, I attended an event on the Star of Louisville which was organized by these Extra Milers.  The event, Influence:  Women’s Toxic Relationship with Tobacco, sponsored by the CCTPCC, was well attended by a diverse group of women.  Those attending learned about special campaigns by the tobacco companies focused on attracting our young women as new smokers.   Come on…jewelry in cigarette cartons?!?

Andrea (Andi) Hannah, a retired RN, is the CCTPCC Coordinator.  The CCTPCC is tasked as being the local source for tobacco education, cessation services, youth prevention, and tobacco-free policy advocacy.  When Andi was asked why she has taken on such a heavy task, she replied, “My passion for this work developed within this job, as I learned about the breadth of the impact of tobacco.”

Regina DeCaro, Manager for the CMH Lois Kratz Wellness Center, assisted with the event, but has not always been a healthy woman.  Regina had personal reasons for her involvement, “I started smoking when I was a teenager and was up to 2-3 packs a day at age 29 – and then I met Tony DeCaro.”  Regina sighs then quickly adds, “Realizing I wanted a long and happy life with Tony, I knew the cigarettes needed to go.”  Regina’s story has a happy ending.  She quit smoking 17 years ago – she lost the cigarettes but kept the man of her dreams.

Dana Nieman, Program Assistant for CCTPCC, was looking for a position that made a positive difference in lives and believes she found it.  Dana said, “By far, my favorite part of this job is helping people to quit tobacco.”  She believes most smokers would prefer to quit; however, are often unsuccessful without assistance.  Dana explains, ”Sometimes people need is a little reassurance they can succeed and some suggestions regarding how to make simple changes that give them more control over their addiction to nicotine.”  

Susan Gilmore, Marketing and PR Specialist for Clark Memorial Hospital (CMH), was also directly involved in planning the Influence event, “The evening was a great opportunity to educate women in our community on bringing about healthy smoking cessation and prevention changes in their spheres of influence.”  Susan felt the evening was a success.

The Influence event included several local women who were asked to discuss how cigarettes have affected their lives.  Tammy Bratcher told the group she started smoking as a 9 year old child.  She and her husband, Kevin, attended smoking cessation classes organized by the CCTPCC and both quit – forever.  At the end of the program a young female server asked for information to stop smoking.  She explained that she heard her own life story when Bratcher spoke, adding that she started smoking as a 10 year old child.  The event made an immediate impact.

I was also a speaker that night, reflecting on how cigarettes have affected my personal life – my beloved father passed away from lung cancer (a lifelong smoker), my mother, a non-smoker who inhaled second-hand smoke most of her life, now has the early stages of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and Jeff, my 22 year old son, is trying to quit (his efforts are making his mother proud).  As I spoke of the needless pain this habit has caused so many, I began to cry.  Andi touched my shoulder and whispered, “Go on, it doesn’t matter – people need to see the pain.”   

Andi, Dana, Regina, and Susan…thank you for working to bring about value to so many lives and for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.

KINDNESS TIP OF THE MONTH:  The Surgeon General of the United States concludes that there is no level of safe exposure to secondhand smoke since there are immediate adverse health effects associated with exposure, even for otherwise healthy adults and children.  So what can you do about it? Here are some suggestions from the CCTPCC:

*Talk to your elected officials about the need to protect all residents and workers in your city or town from secondhand smoke.

*Talk to business owners and managers and ask them to go smoke-free.  Most are willing to consider the possibility of going smoke-free if they know they are in danger of losing your business - and if you never say anything they will not know!

*Start talking to your young children about not smoking – it is never too early to plant the seed.

For more information about how to quit smoking, contact the CCTPCC  at 812-283-2649.

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THE EXTRA MILERS  - Column #18 - NORMA ROBBINS, THE BEAR LADY
By Carol A. Dawson












 

“Sharing is a magic formula that increases happiness and reduces sorrow.”

I recently visited my mother, who lives in Arkansas . She was feeling down about not being able to do things she previously could do (such as prying boulders from her yard) and I made the trip to boost her spirits. Instead, the trip became a gift…to me. I told this to a friend, Kelly Traylor, and she responded that doing for others was always a quick way to perk her up when she is feeling down. This is definitely a formula of life for our Extra Miler this month, Norma Robbins.

Norma Robbins gets more out of each day than most do in a week, and she does it with a charming smile and a bear hug. Her contented spirit comes from all she does for others. Norma thrives on staying busy meeting the needs of those less fortunate. She is happy with life and finds a way to turn gloomy situations into something bear-able. You see, Norma Robbins, is the mother of the B.E.A.R. Family and Shut-In Ministry at DePauw Memorial United Methodist Church in New Albany , Indiana . Believe, Encourage, Assist, and Revive (BEAR) is a teddy bear ministry started by Norma after hearing of a similar ministry from friends in Texas . Bears are given out by any member of the congregation to anyone with a need for comfort. The project is designed to be long term, as its 5 th birthday will be celebrated in October. Close to 1,000 teddy bears have been given away; however, before being distributed, the bears go through an initiation. By sitting in the congregation of the church, they are entitled to wear a tag, “This little bear has spent time in the midst of our congregation. It has heard the Scriptures read, sermons preached, prayers prayed, and songs of praise sung. It knows both the joys and the heartaches of our people, and has been surrounded by the love so freely shared by our Community of faith. It comes to offer you COMFORT and PEACE, with all the blessings of worship and LOVE.”

Norma has a large circle of devoted friends. One such friend, Jim Kanning, describes her as, “… a blessing in diverse ways to so many people, some of whom she doesn't even know.” Kanning stated that Norma is the kind of person everyone can count on for hearty laughter, a warm smile, and a hug.  He summed up her personality, “She does everything with a passion, whether it's serving, learning, or playing. Norma is a walking example of unconditional love, so it's easy to see why people gravitate to her. She's Jesus with skin on and makes knowing our Lord so real and so easy.”

Norma Robbins is a people-pleaser. While I sat with her, inquiring into her life and her love of people, it occurred to me that she was more concerned with building a friendship with the writer than building a reputation for her work. Norma loves people; she believes devoting herself to helping others is then a selfish thing to do.

Quite frankly, it is nearly overwhelming to research Norma Robbins and find out all she has done, all she is currently doing, and all she plans to do. She credits her strong spiritual faith for much of her ambition to ease suffering. Norma also lives much of her life helping others as a form of appreciation. During our conversation, she only slowed down one time and that was when she referred to her beloved late husband, Dave Robbins. She momentarily cast her eyes down and said, “It was amazing how so many people reached out to us during the three years Dave battled lung cancer. Much of my motivation now is the feeling that I need to pass on the kindness that was shown to us.” Norma is successful in showing her appreciation through such things as writing poems of love and concern, volunteering for a number of charities, visiting the sick, serving on charitable boards and committees, creating informative newsletters, serving her church, and answering the call for assistance when needed.

Norma looked up and with a big smile she asked if I wanted to know her favorite bible verse. It is: Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Nobody can doubt Norma rejoices and squeezes every drop of life into each and every day. Thank you, Norma, for being an Extra Miler and for bringing your bright light to Southern Indiana .

Kindness Tip of the Month: Doing good things for others is status quo for Extra Milers and it makes them happy. Kelly Traylor is right; doing for others is the quickest way to turn around your own misfortunes. This month, bring fresh baked goods or fruit to employees at a place of business where you appreciate their attitude, e.g., bank tellers, grocery store cashiers, city workers, church staff, etc. Place a note with the goodies telling them you appreciate what they do and how they do it.

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and owner of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc . If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an EXTRA MILER, let us know about it. To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or send mail to: THE EXTRA MILERS, The Evening News, Attn: Carol Dawson, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.

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Nina Board

THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 54 - Loving Cats Bring Volunteers to the Feline Fix - March 7, 2009
By Carol Dawson









L to R: Dave Cox, Darleen Cox, Jean Maxwell, Betty Pruitt, Dr. Barbara Pepin, Ann Dean-Simpson, Inez Wolfe, Walter Wolfe, Sandra Heishman, and Betty Hays. Not pictured: Michaelle Fisher

The little orange striped kitten was born in a deserted New Albany garage.  She was the tiniest of seven and her mother dutifully cared for the kittens the best she could with her frail and emaciated body.  It was her 6th litter in two years and she was tired.  Hunger was so much a part of her life that she had learned to disregard the ache.  

Four weeks after the kittens were born; the devoted mother’s body gave up the struggle, leaving the fragile creatures alone and cold in the dark deserted garage.  The only warmth came from their tiny cuddled bodies, curled around their mother.  They pushed for further nourishment and cried into their mother’s fur, confused and scared.  Nobody heard their cries.  Two of the strongest kittens survived and would go on to have multiple litters of their own; however, the tiny orange striped kitten never made it beyond the garage.  
 

Ten volunteers for the Floyd County Animal Rescue League (FCARL) Feline Fix want to stop the population growth of unwanted cats.  These volunteers assist Dr. Barbara Pepin every 3-4 weeks with a neuter/spay program for cats.   They know there are more cats in Southern Indiana than we have owners and they want this to change.  

Ann Dean-Simpson, a Feline Fix volunteer, wrote, “I would like to alert you to some Extra Milers in Floyd County.”  Ann wasn’t nominating her group of volunteers, but instead, the individuals who bring in their cats to be neutered/spayed.  She explained, “These are kind hearted people who often pick up a stray cat in their neighborhood, bring it in to be fixed, and pay the special $40 fee in an effort to help control our cat population.”  

While those who bring in their cats are sincerely commended as Extra Milers, it was immediately apparent that the primary Extra Milers to be featured should be the Feline Fix volunteers.  

Once or twice a month, the volunteers meet before 7:00 am to welcome customers, complete paperwork for 35 – 45 cats, collect the discounted fee, load the cats into the van to be transported to the surgery center, return at night to unload the recovering cats, welcome back the customers, provide post op instructions, and distribute the cats to their owners.  

The dedicated volunteers are Jean Maxwell (coordinator), Sandra Heishman, Betty Pruitt, Inez Wolfe, Walter Wolfe, Darleen Cox, Michaelle Fisher, Ann Dean-Simpson, Betty Hays, and Dave Cox.  Customers make appointments through the FCARL and Dr. Pepin provides the service at a reduced fee because of the volunteer assistance.   

I made a trip to meet the volunteers one night during a Feline Fix.  The volunteers were returning the cats after surgery.  I arrived at the FCARL to find a room full of customers.  Families, including several fidgety children, were crowded in the small waiting room, anxious to ensure their pets were doing okay and take them home.  

Skip and Cyndi Lesslie were picking up a cat they adopted after realizing previous homeowners had left it behind.  They feed and care for her, but don’t want kittens.  Skip explained, “A friend told us the Feline Fix was a good deal.”  Skip and Cyndi fully expected to have a long wait to drop off their cat; however, that wasn’t the case.  “We paid for the fix and were out within 15 minutes and it appears the volunteers will be just as efficient tonight,” Skip stated.  

The mutual respect of the cat owners and volunteers was evident that night as the volunteers began calling numbers for the owners to pick up their pets.  Even after working with over 2,000 cats, these Extra Milers are not jaded.  Their love for these wide eyed creatures was evident as they peered into each cage to ensure the cats were comfortable.  

Several of the Feline Fix volunteers also work with the FCARL in other capacities such as serving on the board, assisting in the shelter, or with rescue efforts.  

These Extra Milers are on a mission.  In controlling the cat population, they can control the number of cats and kittens who are living wild, without a home and without love.  They know they cannot stop the problem in its entirety; however, they know their efforts do make a difference in Southern Indiana…one helpless, tiny orange striped kitten at a time.  Thanks to each of the volunteers of the Feline Fix and their customers for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:  FCARL is a 501(c)(3) non-profit – surviving on donations.  If you have a cat that needs to be neutered/spayed, the Feline Fix is available to Southern Indiana/Louisville residents.  If you have been caring for a stray cat, consider bringing it in to be fixed.  If there is a feral (wild) cat in your neighborhood and you live in Floyd County, there is a Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) program through FCARL also.  

For assistance or guidance regarding FCARL services, or to donate, contact: (812) 949-9099 Web site:  www.fcarl.org.  The FCARL is having a fund raiser 1950s Sock Hop and silent auction on March 14 at 6 pm.  For ticket information, contact the number above.

THE EXTRA MILERS - Column Number 49- October 4, 2008
By: Carol A. Dawson









Berniece Nicholson

She sat quietly in the waiting room of the Personal Counseling Service (PCS); however, she wasn’t there for counseling.  Berniece Nicholson was there to have lunch with the Executive Director, Doug Drake.  Unbeknownst to her, the visit included special recognition as our Southern Indiana Extra Miler for October.

Some people dream of creating something significant that will positively affect the lives of others.  Berniece Nicholson isn’t one of those people.  She believes dreams are simply down time unless action is taken to make the dream a reality.  

In the late 1950s, Berniece, along with Bea Baxter and Mary Vawter, came together to create a counseling service facility in Southern Indiana where all citizens could be provided care.  These women came from three churches, with Berniece representing Howard Park Christian Church.  The ladies joined together with several local ministers who had indicated they felt ill equipped to handle some of the mental concerns of their congregations, especially from teenagers and young adults.

Berniece recalls initial meetings to discuss the project.  She said, “We envisioned this facility would be open to rich or poor, all races, young or old, and all backgrounds.”  Berniece initially found herself drawn to the project while serving as the Chair of the Christian Education program for her church.  She stated, “The young people in my church were frustrated with day to day pressures and they needed a safe place where they could discuss their concerns to counselors and doctors.”

After months of preparation and planning, the faith-based non-profit Personal Counseling Service was born. “We didn’t have much money for start up, so my husband, Bill, and I found ourselves doing whatever needed to be done to ensure the PCS was a success,” Bernice recalled.  

Berniece and Bill, along with other volunteers, kept the yard landscaped and mowed, cleaned the building, took out trash, and helped in the front office when needed.  Although the PCS was created to address the needs of the entire community, the volunteers and funding primarily came from the area churches.  Berniece and the other organizers advertised through the local church ministers and the PCS doors were open for business in November 1959.

When Doug Drake nominated Berniece as an Extra Miler, he was quick to give her praise, “Berniece is very bright, passionate, and humble.”  Doug stated that Berniece’s Christian faith seemed to be a major factor leading her to create the PCS, adding that the facility is strengthening its Christian based roots by providing internships for Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary students.  Doug also noted, “We are proud that PCS serves all persons, regardless of their faith.”  

Berniece doesn’t see her personal involvement as being particularly significant; however, she does view the success of the PCS and current staff and volunteers as being momentous.  She provides this insight, “I am proud that the PCS continues to be a success 49 years after we opened the doors,” adding, “I will be 89 years old this year and hope my contribution has made a positive difference for Southern Indiana.”  Berniece becomes very serious and states, “I believe all people should show concern for their fellow person in need.”

When Drake (a previous Extra Miler) was asked why he believed Berniece Nicholson is an Extra Miler, he said, “Berniece is a gem in our community – she is the cornerstone and only surviving founder of the PCS and we plan to recognize her during our 50th anniversary celebration in 2009.”  Drake adds, “Thanks to Berniece’s efforts, more than 380,000 counseling sessions and psychiatric medication management and evaluations have been provided to members in our community.”

Berniece didn’t stop her volunteerism efforts after creating the PSC.  Even today she continues volunteering with the Hospice Foundation of America.  Berniece believes we all have an Extra Miler inside of us.  We simply must move our well intentioned dreams forward into reality.  Because Berniece Nicholson went beyond her dream to have mental counseling services available to all people in need, she is a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Berniece Nicholson asks that parents and others who associate with young people take quiet time to really listen to what they have to say. Take time each day to sit and talk with them.  Find out how they are doing – both mentally and physically.  There is help, if needed...find that help and pass it on.  

If you are a former patient or counseling client and would like to share your success story for the 50th Anniversary Celebration, contact Doug Drake: 812-206-4273 or e-mail ddrake@pcs-counseling.org

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The Extra Miler   -February 2008
Hoosier Cheer for Our Heroes
By:  Carol A. Dawson

Josh had just returned from spending three days in the city of Baghdad.  Those past several days had been the worst of the six months since his deployment to Iraq.  As he headed toward his first shower in four days, he thought about his friends and family back home.

Since last week was his birthday, Josh decided to check the mail tent.  As always, he was told he had no mail.  Josh’s parents and siblings were busy with life back home.  Still, he thought he would get a few cards on his 19th birthday.

Josh started back toward the shower when he heard excited conversation at the back of the mail tent.  He turned back to find a large box had arrived with cards and letters for his unit.  As the word spread throughout the unit, soldiers made their way to the mail center.  Cards from Indiana school children, letters from college students, and cards from Southern Indiana citizens were stacked up on a table.

Since Josh had a nine year old step-brother back home, he decided to pick up a few of the colorful cards written by the children who attend Green Valley Elementary School.  He read, “To A Troop, You are very, very, very brave.  My teacher is not so brave as you.  Thank you.  Love, David” The outside of the card was colored with a rainbow over a soldier and tank.  Josh could imagine his little brother creating just such a card.

He picked up a card from school children at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope and it read, “I am a girl.  Do a lot of girls fight over there? God Bless You.”  He picked up a small white card that read, “I am a person with a disability attending a day program in New Albany.  Thank you for your service.” Josh smiled for the first time in six months.

He looked at the writing on the envelopes that showed respect for his work, “To An American Hero, To an Important Person in the Military, To A Brave Soldier, and To One of Our Nation’s Finest.”  Josh read a card from a mother who wrote, “My son is over there and I know how difficult it has to be for all of you.  Please understand our country appreciates your sacrifice.”

As others began reading the cards, Josh picked up a final card with detailed and colorful Christmas drawings “I can’t believe you did all of that for us.  You are so brave. I sure hope Santa can find you. Merry Christmas. Abbie”  Josh asked if he could take a couple of the cards and was told there was enough for everyone to keep several cards.  He kept Abbie’s card and found the card with the rainbow and took them to his tent.

He forgot about the previous three days, he forgot about his birthday being missed, and he forgot about his shower, as he re-read the two cards, crunched on the peppermint candy canes taped to the cards, and studied every detail of the thoughtful drawings.  He knew why he was in Iraq.

Thank you to the Southern Indiana citizens who created and wrote out the 2,834 cards for the men and women serving our country in Iraq.  These cards and letters will be sent overseas through Lt. Governor Becky Skillman’s Hoosier Cheer for Our Heroes project and will be enjoyed by military personnel like Josh.  Thanks to The Evening News-New Albany Tribune for sponsoring our card drive, and to Sam’s Warehouse, First Christian Church, and Perkfection’s Coffee/Café for collecting the cards.

Thank you to Barbara Reed, who sat and wrote notes in over a hundred cards in honor of her son, Michah Reed.  Michah is in Iraq and the story she told of soldiers who never receive mail inspired this column.   Thank you to Vicki Neely and the Green Valley Elementary School for being the first to respond to our call for cards.  A special thanks to my husband, Ken, who counted most of the cards while taping on over 2,500 candy canes. He always steps up when needed.

To anyone who is serving or has served in the military – we thank you and wish you a Happy and Safe Holiday season.

Kindness Tip of the Month:  If you would like to send cards/letters/packages to our troops, there are groups who will provide assistance.   My brother in the military advised that it is unlikely that any card or letter sent overseas or to any of the military hospitals without a specific name of a soldier, will be received.  If you would like to send packages or letters to soldiers in general, check out these verified web sites:

www.healthytroops.com/SponsorATroop.htm or call (928) 536-9191

www.ustroopcarepackage.com/  or call (509) 521-7508

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The Extra Milers - Column #21 - Judy Brooner
By:  Carol A. Dawson








 



“Maybe the greatest challenge now is to find a way to keep independence while also committing ourselves to the ties that bind people, families, and ultimately societies together.”   Jane O'Reilly

As a military brat, I grew up with a strong sense of independence.  For children who grow up without a “hometown,” independence was a means of survival used to get through routine separations from friends and family.  Those who were independent felt powerful against the broken emotional ties that often cause even the strongest to curl up and give up.  

After living in the same town for 16 years, the need to conjure up the mighty shield of independence happens considerably less often.  This month an Extra Miler went out of her way to reveal how good things can happen when the shield is dropped.  She taught me that a little vulnerability can actually have an up-side.

Last month I had routine, major surgery.  Knowing about the surgery several months ago, I began planning work and other obligations around the recovery timeframe of several weeks.  To my dismay, the doctor provided a litany of prohibitive activities during the recovery period.  In steps Extra Miler Judy Brooner.  

Judy is a friend, fellow church member, and neighbor.  Her persistence in coordinating support during the recovery period made a significant and positive difference.  As soon as she heard about the surgery, Judy offered to assist my family during the “down time” by arranging for church members to prepare dinners.  Initially, like a Knight of the Roundtable, I whipped out the trusty shield, thanked her for the offer, and advised we would be fine.  After all, it wasn’t necessary for anyone to take time from their busy schedules to prepare meals for us…this is why canned soups and restaurants were created.  Judy would hear nothing of this, as she stepped aside the shield and advised, “I know what it is like to need help when you are in recovery.  People who care about you want to help and it’s time you let them. I will set this up and there is no need for further discussion.”  

Extra Milers don’t quit when they know something needs to be done.  Judy began coordinating a three week plan to ensure my family was well taken care of during the recovery period.  My husband had a tear in his eye as Judy gave him the details of the food to be delivered to our home (poor man doesn’t get many home cooked meals).  

Like clockwork, friends delivered meals to our home for the next three weeks.  There were others who also brought food and snacks, picked me up to get out of the house, and visited with cards, flowers, and gifts.   Extra Milers were everywhere.  Judy, and a special group of friends, showed the value of opening up and allowing others to serve.

I remain impressed with Judy’s ability to anticipate the shield of independence by looking beyond words and directly at the basic need.  As I learn more about her as an Extra Miler, I discover that this effort is not unique to her daily life.  Judy lives her life as if most things are a matter of fact.  When she views that something needs to be done, she immediately begins looking at how to make it happen.

Judy’s family includes her husband, Richard, three sons, Jon, Jimmy, Josef, and her daughter, Janesse.  Judy is a teacher at Jeffersonville High School and is deeply rooted in her religious faith, having two grandfathers who were ministers.   In addition to her involvement in the lives of her family, she finds time to coordinate and lead several singing groups within her church, sing in the church praise band, and organize/chaperon school sponsored trips for students to experience life in other countries.  

For a recent milestone birthday, Judy’s teenage son, Joe, wrote his mother an emotional song.  He expressed how he felt about his mother always being there to help him make the right choices.  Being musically talented like his parents, Joe played the guitar and sang the song to Judy at her birthday party this year, thanking her for all she does for him and their family.  

Judy’s husband, Richard, is proud of his multi-tasking wife, “She is a wonderful wife and mother; dedicated to her profession and her family in equal measures.”  With a grin, he adds that his wife would qualify for sainthood if she were Catholic.  

Judy doesn’t see her efforts as those of an Extra Miler.  Instead, she simply views them as necessary.  To this Extra Miler, people stepping up to care for one another is the natural course of action to get a job done.   Judy, thank you for going the extra mile.

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and owner of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc.  If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an EXTRA MILER, let us know about it.  To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email:  Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or mail:  THE EXTRA MILERS, The Evening News, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN  47130-3340.  

KINDNESS TIP OF THE MONTH:   This is a really easy kindness activity.  This month, make a special effort to look who is behind you while you wait in lines.  If someone is with young children, has a smaller number of items to purchase, is elderly (be careful, those of us who are 50 don’t consider that elderly), disabled, etc., allow them to step in front of you.  Then feel good knowing that person may pass on your act of kindness.    

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The Extra Milers  - Column #10 - Mary Ann Burch and Cathy Guthrie
By Carol A. Dawson







 

Barbra Streisand gave us these words in a song, “People…people who need people…are the luckiest people in the world.” Let me introduce you to some folks who consider themselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world. It is their life experiences (good and bad) that have made them extra milers.

In workshops, I talk about the dangers of stereotyping. Read on as I blatantly ignore my own advice. Extra milers are all the same; they share many of the same traits. After reporting on extra milers for the past year, the obvious is that they are all caring people. The less obvious is that they would prefer attention and credit be placed elsewhere. As a result, they are often overlooked. Extra milers are typically not acknowledged in big ceremonies (not to diminish the wonderful deeds of those who are).


Kind acts for them are common day to day activities, often accomplished without fanfare. Cathy Guthrie is a prime example. She will be surprised to see her name mentioned first in this column, since she wrote to me about her good friend, Mary Ann Burch. However, research tells me that both women are deserving of kudos and recognition as extra milers.

Cathy performs her acts of kindness because she personally knows and understands pain. She has lived with the pain of a rare disease called Neurofibromantosis (NF), the grief of having two daughters and many other close family members diagnosed with serious medical concerns, and the sorrow of feeling she can never give enough. From these feelings, Cathy asks us to recognize another person whose acts of kindness have given her family relief and a great deal of happiness.


Cathy wrote that Mary Ann Burch is the epitome of an extra miler, “Mary Ann searches for ways she can help others. Her heart is so full of love and compassion for others. Even with her own struggles, she always finds time for people who need help.” Cathy went on to say, “Mary Ann pops up any time our family is in need.” Since Cathy and her family are continually dealing with surgeries and visits to doctors and hospitals, Mary Ann steps in to offer rides to and from the hospital, prepares and delivers home-cooked meals, performs clothing alterations (she is an accomplished seamstress), and lends a loving heart.


When Cathy’s eldest daughter (who also has NF) was to be married, Mary Ann stepped in to help make the day extra special. Knowing the wedding would be a financial strain on the family; Mary Ann rallied her family and offered to manage all the kitchen duties during the reception. Cathy wrote, “Mary Ann also did all my daughter’s bridal alterations, made her veil, and hand designed jewelry for all the bridesmaids.” That wasn’t all she did. Since Cathy’s own mother suffers from NF and Alzheimer Disease, Mary Ann stepped up to the task of fielding all the “what do I do next” calls related to planning a special wedding day. Mary Ann’s advice was both a comfort and a necessity for Cathy and her family to get through the wedding, along with the many stresses of daily life.

Cathy closed her letter and also our conversation with these words, “I know the monetary value of all Mary Ann has done for our family. She has done all of these things from her heart, expecting absolutely nothing in return, as did her family members. I’m sure she never discusses her good deeds with others. She is a true servant of God. She gives her own daughters, along with mine; one of the greatest gifts a mother can give – setting the perfect example of how to treat others with kindness.” Somehow, in this busy world, people like Mary Ann find time to dedicate themselves to perform good deeds and to always go that extra mile. We welcome Mary Ann (and Cathy) into the warm circle of friendship that surrounds an “extra miler.”

Kindness Tip of the Month : We cannot know or understand how the Katrina survivors feel at this time; however, we know our sisters and brothers have survived more than most of us can imagine. Their tears and cries for help have come across the television and have touched our hearts. Take a moment – close your eyes - and step into their weary shoes. Imagine how you would feel if you lost everything - family members, health, home, job – even your entire hometown. Do you feel uncomfortable as you think about what our neighbors have lost? Don’t cry about it as you watch the devastation – do something today! There are collections all around Clark County , join one and be an “extra miler.”

Follow Up : Have you acted on any of our previous kindness tips? If so, let us know what you did, how it made you feel and the reaction of the recipient (if you were there to witness their reaction). If you have been the beneficiary of an act of kindness in Clark County , give us a call or send an email or note. Next month this column will be dedicated to short stories relating to acts of kindness in Clark County that may have been spurred on through reading about the Evening News extra milers.

Carol A. Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and President of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc . If you have seen or been a part of an act of kindness or know an extra miler, let us know about it. To submit a story or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Extra.Milers@newsandtribune.com or send mail to: The Extra Milers, The Evening News, 221 Spring Street Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.

The Extra Miler - Column #34 -REPEAT (Troops)

Kindness Tip:  Being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana just got easier!  If you want to do something very simple for our troops to say thank you, the State of Indiana is working to gather holiday cards,  Hoosier Cheer for our Soldiers.  Last year Indiana sent 1,000 cards overseas and this year Becky Skillman, our Lt. Governor, has a goal to send over 5,000 cards and letters.  I believe Southern Indiana alone has thousands of Extra Milers who would be willing to collect at least 5,000 cards of thanks and well wishes.  

If you are interested in sending a letter of appreciation or a holiday card to our troops, please mail or drop them off at either the New Albany Tribune (303 Scribner Drive, 47150), The Evening News office in Jeffersonville (221 Spring Street, 47130), or Sam’s Warehouse (1301 Veterans Parkway-next to membership).  Coordinate a card drive in your child’s school, in your place of worship, or at your place of business…but do so before November 10!

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The Extra Miler - Article #27 - Emily Rohr - Wise Beyond Her Years
By Carol A. Dawson












Emma Golmam is quoted, “No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child.  The effort of every true educator should be to unlock that treasure.”   Extra Miler Emily Rohr has a head-start on unlocking her kindness and generosity partially because her parents are educators.  Tom and Sheila Rohr, administrators in the Southern Indiana school system, have clearly unlocked the treasures within their 11 year old daughter.   

Emily is a bright, friendly, and articulate Utica Elementary 5th grader.  She was referred as an Extra Miler by Sandy Lewis, who was impressed with Emily’s dedication to a long term volunteer project.  Her project was to train a “Paws With Purpose (PWP)” puppy to assist an individual with a disability.  

Emily was given a specially bred 8 week old puppy by the PWP; a solid black Goldendoodle named Tillie.  She was to train and work with Tillie each day for 18 months, attend weekly special training classes, and take Tillie in public as often as possible.   The public appearances were designed as an opportunity to work with the puppy on commands and to ensure she adjusts to being in a lot of places and around a variety of people.  However, the trips often turn into opportunities for Emily to educate the public about Tillie’s mission.  

I met Emily at the Greentree Mall to interview and watch her work with Tillie.  As we walked through the mall, Emily selected stores where she knew Tillie would be challenged.  She wanted her dog to be confronted with items at lower levels, loud noises, strong scents, and flashing lights.  Emily has taught Tillie to ignore distractions.  Tillie walked beside her trainer and stayed on task.  Clearly proud, Emily showed how Tillie is rewarded for her efforts, “Tillie does so well that I worry she may become overweight from the treats.”  

Tom and Sheila knew this could be a good project for their animal-loving daughter after hearing about PWP during a Rotary Club meeting.  “This opportunity has helped Emily realize that she can make a difference in the lives of other people, which is something we try to teach all of our girls,” Sheila noted.   Both parents have observed how responsible and committed Emily has been to this project.  Sheila explained, “One of many positives I see from Emily working with Tillie is learning service to others and responsibility.  Emily was not really a shy child, but this experience has helped her learn to communicate with lots of people.”  

Emily credits her family with much of her success with Tillie, “On occasion when I have too much homework or just do not have time to work with Tillie, my parents or sisters help out.”    

Most 11 year old girls are primarily interested in their own lives.  Emily is not like most young girls.  When working with Tillie, she is confident, focused, and serious about her task.  In the mall, her focus at all times was on her dog and keeping Tillie under control.  As children and adults approach them with questions; Emily stops, commands Tillie to sit, and openly responds to inquiries.  

Emily noted, “You should always ask before you pet a working dog.  During the initial training, Tillie is learning to be comfortable with people, so she can get attention. Later, when she is working, she will give her owner undivided attention.”  

Emily smiles as she explains, “Many people think Tillie is a guide dog for the blind.  Some think I am blind and when they speak to me they don’t use their hands until they understand that I am a trainer.”  

Emily has taught Tillie 35 commands, how to open doors and refrigerators, pick up items off the floor, and much more.  When asked if she would recommend this project to other children, her response was very specific, “Only if they are committed, very patient, have lots of time to give to the dog, and love animals.  I usually spend at least an hour a day or longer working with her.”  

She hopes one day her dog will give needed assistance to someone who will love her as she has for the past 18 months.  Emily explained that she would only have Tillie for five more days before giving her back to PWP for advanced training.  Her job is complete and Tillie will move on to be tested for Advanced Training.

Watching them work in harmony, it was hard to imagine how difficult it would be for Emily to give up her constant companion.  When asked about this, she confidently said, “I know it is going to be hard to give Tillie up and I’m going to really miss her.  It will be sad, but I have known all along that she was only with me temporarily and that she will be leaving to help someone with a disability.”  

Our Extra Miler, Emily Rohr, is wise beyond her years.  She carefully nurtured Tillie and taught her to serve a special purpose in life.  Tillie will one day be a working dog, giving her new owner something very special - dignity through independence.  Emily also taught Tillie something extra along the way – love.  

Thank you, Emily Rohr, for being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:   After the February column was published, several readers asked if there was a local organization similar to Therapy Dogs, Inc.   If you are interested in helping Paws With Purpose, you can find them in Louisville through www.PawsWithPurpose.com or by calling 502-689-0804.  They need volunteers and donations of money and supplies to keep this wonderful program going.

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After the storm - first day back - - and now, three years later. Joe and Irma Pazzuto, St. Bernard Parish, LA.
The Extra Miler - Part I    - JULY 2008 - Column Number 44  
By Carol A. Dawson

This is part I of a two-part Extra Miler, based on a trip to New Orleans










 

The good people of New Orleans send Southern Indiana this message:  Please don’t forget about us, and don’t think of us as lazy people.  My journey to understanding why the people of New Orleans want us to know these things began at the Memphis airport.  

My husband accompanied me on a recent trip to New Orleans for a National Society of Newspaper Columnist convention.  With fear of impending starvation on the Memphis airport tarmac, we headed to the snack area before our flight.  There was no table open; however, a brawny man with a New Orleans/New York accent invited us to join him as he ate lunch with his wife.  

Joe and Irma Pizzuto were heading home to New Orleans and I asked, “Did Katrina seriously affect you and your family?” I would find out in the next four days just how seriously affected everyone in the New Orleans area was by the storm and how it would forever change the landscape of their lives.  

The Pizzutos grew up in St. Bernard Parish, a community southeast of New Orleans.  Joe and Irma planned to live out their retirement years in the house where they raised their family. They couldn’t have imagined that within weeks after Joe’s retirement from the railroad business, their lives would change so drastically.  

Katrina flooded 100% of St. Bernard Parish, a thriving and hard-working community of 67,000. Virtually every home and business was declared uninhabitable.    Everything was wiped out – homes, schools, businesses, parks, and restaurants.  With their homes, possessions were lost – antiques, financial papers, precious photo albums, clothes, yearbooks, and boxes full of mementos of their lives.  

Jobs were lost, family was scattered across the country, and the neighbors and friends they grew up with were gone.  Over 200 resident of the Parish lost their lives in the flood.  Storms were fairly typical to the residents in the New Orleans area, but nobody could have predicted Katrina’s all inclusive destruction.  

Joe and Irma thought the worst was over with the storm; however, there was yet more heartbreaking news.  Our conversation spilled into the gate waiting area as Irma, a petite woman with an easy smile, spoke of their greatest loss.  

Irma spoke through tear filled eyes as Joe slumped back into the chair, quietly, “Joe’s mother was in the nursing home that didn’t evacuate.”  She paused, trying to hold back her emotion, “She was bedridden and we had been told she would be evacuated.”   Joe moved forward and added, “We lost her along with 34 other patients and it took months to find and identify her.” He added, “This put everything else into perspective.”  

“We didn’t just lose our homes, we lost so much more – we lost our family – our friends -our entire community and way of life.”  Irma explained.  It has been three years since the Katrina disaster and the pain is still obvious.  Joe and Irma talked about how important it was for them to “come home.”  

As soon as the government allowed, Joe and Irma Pizzuto began making trips to what was left of their house.  They spoke of returning to find everything dead – no trees, no grass, and no birds.  Determined to make their place a home again, Joe eventually rebuilt and then started on his daughter’s home down the street.  

This comeback has not been an easy task.   Few of the Pizzuto’s neighbors and businesses have returned.  Flood insurance wasn’t thought to be needed in their area and there was little government support for individual families; therefore rebuilding has been slow.

There is still no hospital, and there are only a few schools now open in this once thriving Parish.  As a sign of the St. Bernard’s revitalization, their only high school had a sign out front encouraging residents to drop by for a car wash fund raiser.  

They yearn for “Pre-Katrina” when every lot had a home and children laughed and played throughout their neighborhood.  So they came back.  They came back because this is their home – their love for their community is firmly grounded deep in their hearts and there isn’t wind or rain strong enough to steal that away.  

Joe and Irma set an example for Southern Indiana and the rest of America by keeping their faith during the most difficult of times and showing great fortitude to rebuild their lives and their community.  They, along with all who are rebuilding, are Extra Milers for St. Bernard Parish and for Southern Indiana.   

Kindness Tip of the Month: Everyone needs to be prepared for an emergency.  Imagine if you only had 15 minutes (or less) to leave your home before everything was blown or washed away.  What would you take…what would you lose?  What papers in your home are the most important?  Do you always keep half a tank of gas in your vehicles for evacuation (all businesses may be closed)?  Schedule an hour this week to check out this web site for easy step-by-step instructions on how to be prepared:  www.72hours.org

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The Extra Miler - Part I    - JULY 2008 - Column Number 45
By Carol A. Dawson









 

New Orleans:  Haunted by the X

I was eager to see the city of New Orleans for the first time since Katrina, and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists annual conference set up the ideal opportunity.  It was good to see the heart of the city looking pristine and playing the role of host so graciously in less than three years after the catastrophy.  

It was an easy task for the conference attendees to absorb the spirit of the French Quarter and see the great city flourishing once again.  Spirits were high and humorous one-liners flowed easily…until Saturday.  The columnists decelerated during our tour through the sections of New Orleans and surrounding Parishes hit the hardest by Katrina.  Almost on cue, the day became dark and rain began to fall as the buses turned into the first of several devastated areas.  

Tears went into auto-pilot as past television images of Katrina collided with the current state of the neighborhoods.  As we rolled through streets of concrete slabs, destroyed homes and vacant lots, I imagined these communities must have looked much like Southern Indiana before the storm…before Katrina.  Despite the efforts of thousands of Extra Milers, many areas still resemble a war-torn city in a third world country.

I will forever be haunted by the large brightly painted Xs still on many of the houses.  These symbols meant the houses had been checked by the National Guard.  In the upper portion of the X was the date (usually a couple of weeks after Katrina), to one side was the Guard unit acronym and at the bottom was the number of deceased.  Some homes were marked with the words, “Dog,” or “Cat” painted near the X in bold letters to indicate pets were lost in these homes.  

It was similar images from August 2005 that prompted me (and my husband, Ken) to arrive a day early to work with Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO). The Executive Director, Charlotte Bass Lilly, offered pick up and delivery for our day with the ARNO “beautiful animals.”  

As we journeyed to the ARNO site, Charlotte told of the people and pets that didn’t make it to safety during Katrina.  She told stories of owners who were not given the option to take their beloved pets to safety – chronicles of pain and loss.  After several stories, she sighed and made a quick thought transition.  “Enough of that…there are so many stories of hope and love you need to hear,” Charlotte said.

During our day with ARNO, tales of perseverance and strong-will flowed from the workers.  We heard stories of ARNO purchasing boats after the storm, to look for abandoned pets.  The National Guard would recover individuals off roofs, forcing owners to leave their pets behind.  As often as possible, ARNO volunteers swept in to rescue the frightened animals.

Stories flowed of pets swimming for miles to safety and then months later being reunited with their owners. Even now – three years after the storm, families are being reunited with their pets.  

Charlotte talked about a despondent elderly woman who lost everything to the flood, including her dog.  The woman had become despondent, with no will to live.  Months later she saw her dog in an ARNO photograph.  When the two best friends were reunited, she said it was a miracle her dog made it through the storm and if he could make it, she could also.   

ARNO provides a special place until the animals of New Orleans can find a home.  Robin Beaulieu, ARNO Rescue Director said, “We like to refer to ARNO as an animal lodge; a safe refuge after the storm.”  

The New Orleans' animals at ARNO appear happy, as teams of volunteers arrive daily.  Puppies play in wading pools while cages are cleaned, excited dogs play fetch after they are walked several times a day, and cats are gently held and snuggled in the warmth of blankets and sheets.  Despite the noise level from volunteers and attention demanding dogs, I felt a sense of calm in the middle of the chaos. While I know they are still not home; the animals are nourished, healed, and loved in this place known as the Animal Lodge.  

Kindness Tip of the Month:  Do not forget the people or the animals of New Orleans.  The rebuilding progress has come through personal sweat, along with aid from Extra Milers.  There are many volunteer groups to contact if you wish to assist in the rebuilding of New Orleans and the surrounding community.  Go to (these links were good at the time of this column):

Animal Rescue New Orleans: www.animalrescueneworleans.org

Habitat for Humanity:  www.habitat-nola.org

Community Center of St. Bernard:  www.ccstb.org/

The St. Bernard Project:  www.stbernardproject.org/

THE EXTRA MILERS - Column #15
Carol A. Dawson
GOOD DEEDS BY KAREN CONRAD












 

One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One wolf is Evil. It is angry envious, full of sorrow, full of regret, greedy, arrogant, and consumed with self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, false pride, and ego. The other fighting wolf is Good. It is joyous, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, humble, kind, benevolent, empathetic, generous, truthful, and possessing great compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Please tell me...which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

At the Reflection Hair Design salon in New Albany , there is a woman who only feeds the wolf known as Good. As soon as The Extra Miler column was extended to include all of Southern Indiana , Karen Conrad’s name immediately surfaced as a person who fits our description of someone who quietly goes above and beyond.

In researching Karen’s acts of kindness, there appears to be a key to her success. It appears she simply cannot help herself…her acts are instinctive. She takes whatever road is necessary to help others, even when it means veering from an intended path. Diane Rufing works at Reflections and summed up Karen’s good deeds, “Karen is the type of person who wants every day to be special for the people around her.” Diane reflects for a moment, then words flow, “She is simply a Godsend. I can’t say enough about her. She just touches the lives of so many people that it is hard to adequately put into words. She has a gift of making lives better and for making people happier. Everyone loves Karen.”

I asked for stories of Karen’s good will from her friends and co-workers and was immediately pulled into stories of an annual event created for the foster children of the Providence House for Children and the people who love and care for them.

Imagine you are a 10 year old child who has been separated from family and home. Imagine your need to connect with friends and people who care about you…people who could give a sense of belonging while boosting your self esteem. Where would you find such a consortium? In steps Karen Conrad, her business partner, Leslie Minsterketter, and the staff of Reflections. Karen, described as having a heart bigger than Texas , was looking for an outlet…not for stress or anger, but an outlet for her compassionate spirit. She begins a friendship with Sister Barbara Ann Zeller, Director of Providence House for Children and offers a special day of pampering and love for the foster children and their foster families. Touched by the plight of these children, Karen decided Reflections could help the children increase their positive self esteem through a day of pampering, hugs, and love. Karen and her staff arranged to come in on their day off and shower the children with Karen-style love which included free hair cuts, manicures, makeovers, temporary gel colors, paraffin hand soaks, and more...while playing games and enjoying refreshments. Reflecting on Karen’s kindness, Sister Barbara is reminded of these words, “If you want to know if you are good for others, ask yourself how much hope you have given them.” She adds, “Every fiber of Karen’s being is about hope and heart. When one is in her presence, you know that you are with someone who is good and in a very real sense, holy.”

Donna Wells has worked with Karen for several years and was eager to comment on our Extra Miler, “Karen simply gives, gives, and then gives more. She gives to friends, family, co-workers, and strangers and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. Everyone is important to her…she likes for people to be happy. I would not be at all surprised to find that Karen has wings tucked under her clothes.”

Among the many other community service activities in which Karen is involved, she also started an organization to give away custom styled wigs to cancer patients. She does this in memory of her long time friend, Dorothy Bickers, who passed away from cancer. Karen’s business partner, Leslie described how Karen does so much, “It is difficult to put into words. Karen is always thinking of other people. It isn’t just for people she knows…it can be anyone who walks into her life and needs help. She just stops what she is doing and helps, without a second thought. She puts everyone else’s needs above her own.”

When most of us become fatigued by deviations in our somewhat structured journey through life, Karen Conrad travels effortlessly through the challenge of taking the road less traveled to help people in need. For her continual acts of feeding Good within our community and for being such a wonderful role model, Karen Conrad is recognized as a Southern Indiana Extra Miler. Thank you, Karen, Leslie, and the staff of Reflections.

And as for the young Extra Miler from Spring Hill Elementary, Jasi Coureur, who was featured in The Evening News on February 2…keep lending your helping hand and bright spirit to those around you. You are also a Southern Indiana Extra Miler and a shining example of how all of our young people should behave. Keep on this positive path.

Kindness Tip of the Month: I’m going to reiterate this one for those of you who missed it in an earlier column (and because it is easy to do and such fun). When you go through a restaurant drive up window – ask how much the next order is – if you have the extra change and it is within your budget – pay for their order. Tell the cashier this is a random act of kindness and ask him/her to tell the next driver to pass it on…then drive away with a big smile on your face knowing your act is certain to be a bright spot in that next customer’s day. The look on the cashier’s face is just a freebee.